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Can Deshaun Watson play in preseason after being suspended by the NFL?

Deshaun Watson was handed a six week suspension after the NFL’s investigation found he was in violation of the league’s conduct policy.

Deshaun Watson was handed a six week suspension after the NFL's  investigation found he was in violation of the league's conduct policy.
Nick CammettAFP

Deshaun Watson has been suspended for six games after the NFL’s investigation ruled he violated the league’s personal conduct policy. The former Texans quarterback won’t be available for Cleveland until the middle of October.

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Watson was accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct by 25 different women in separate massage sessions from March 2020 to March 2021. One of the accusers dropped her lawsuit after the judge ruled the plaintiffs had to amend their petitions to release their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits filed against, and on Monday settled three of the four remaining suits.

The former Texans quarterback was benched the entire 2021 season while the legal investigations were on going. Neither he, nor the Texans saw a resolution to their situation so this offseason Houston put him on the market and Cleveland came calling. The Texans received the 13th and 107th picks in this year’s draft and and first and third round pick in 2023 and a first and fourth round pick in 2024.

The Browns had yet to name Watson their starting quarterback, perhaps waiting to hear the league’s decision on a suspension. It is assumed he will take over the role of starting signal caller once the suspension is done in mid October, but until then Josh Rosen, Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs will battle for the starting job for the first six weeks of the season.

Watson hasn’t played since January 2021

It’s been over a year and a half since Watson last has played a down in the NFL. While he won’t be able to play, practice or enter team facilities while suspended he will be able to play in the Browns preseason games. Under the collective bargaining agreement suspended players are allowed to participate in training camp and preseason games, but once the regular season begins he will banned from any team activities.

In his four season as the Texans quarterback, Watson threw for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with just 36 interceptions and was named to three Pro Bowls. Before sitting out last season he had his best year as a pro, throwing for 4,823 yards, 33 TDs and 7 INTs while completing 70.2%.

Watson will make his Browns debut against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Friday, August 12 at 7 p.m. ET.


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