Cleveland’s game in Week 13 at Houston just got a lot more interesting. The Deshaun Watson suspension has finally been finalized, and that’s going to be his first game back.
The suspension was agreed upon by the league and the NFLPA, rather than ruled upon by the judge appointed by Roger Goodwell. There will be no appeal. Watson will be on the shelf for 11 games, coming back for the final six games. He’s also paying a fine of $5 million.
If you’re thinking about selecting Cleveland pass catchers like Amari Cooper, Donovan Peoples-Jones and David Njoku, you’re getting them with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback for about the first two thirds of the season. They’ll play with Watson for about a third of the season (with one of those games coming in Week 18, when you’re probably finished with your league).
Watson issued a statement that included a sort-of apology (“I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused; I take accountability for the decisions I made.”) while at the same time maintaining that he didn’t do anything wrong. “I’ve always stood on my innocence and always said I’ve never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone,” Watson said. “I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence.”
It should make for some wild games late in the season, as evidenced by the hostile crowd reaction he generate in Jacksonville in his preseason debut.
For football purposes, I like that the suspension is balanced for the other teams in the AFC North. Baltimore, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh will all see Watson once this year.
In the last 20 years, there have been 16 games where a quarterback who’s put up top-5 numbers has starter against his original team. Those quarterbacks have gone 8-8 in those games.
There are two other big reunion games this year. In Week 1, Russell Wilson will start at Denver, while the Browns will play Carolina, which likely will have Baker Mayfield in the starting lineup. And Carson Wentz is scheduled to play a pair against Philadelphia.
|QUARTERBACKS FACING OLD TEAMS|
|2002||Drew Bledsoe, Buff.||N.E.||L 7-38||28||45||302||1||1||1-2-0|
|2005||Kurt Warner, Ariz.||St.L.||L 12-17||29||42||327||0||1||1-0-0|
|2006||Mark Brunell, Was.||Jac.||W 36-30||18||30||329||3||1||0-0-0|
|2006||Steve McNair, Balt.||at Ten.||W 27-26||29||47||373||3||2||2-9-0|
|2007||Daunte Culpepper, Oak.||at Min.||L 22-29||23||39||344||1||1||2-4-0|
|2007||Jeff Garcia, T.B.||at S.F.||L 19-21||12||20||196||1||0||0-0-0|
|2009||Brett Favre, Min.||G.B.||W 30-23||24||31||271||3||0||1-(-2)-0|
|2010||Donovan McNabb, Was.||at Phil.||W 17-12||8||19||125||1||1||5-39-0|
|2011||Michael Vick, Phil.||at Atl.||L 31-35||19||28||242||2||1||6-25-0|
|2012||Carson Palmer, Oak.||at Cin.||L 10-34||19||34||146||1||1||0-0-0|
|2013||Peyton Manning, Den.||at Ind.||L 33-39||29||49||386||3||1||1-(-1)-0|
|2015||Jay Cutler, Chi.||Den.||L 15-17||18||32||265||0||1||3-29-0|
|2019||Kirk Cousins, Min.||Was.||W 19-9||23||26||285||0||0||2-2-0|
|2020||Andy Dalton, Dall.||at Cin.||W 30-7||16||23||185||2||0||1-(-1)-0|
|2021||Jameis Winston, N.O.||T.B.||W 36-27||6||10||56||1||0||4-40-0|
|2021||Tom Brady, T.B.||at N.E.||W 19-17||22||43||269||0||0||4-3-0|
|2022||Deshaun Watson, Cle.||at Hou.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|2022||Russell Wilson, Den.||at Sea.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|
|2023||• Matt Ryan, Ind.||at Atl.||?||?||?||?||?||?||?|