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Ravens set to face Deshaun Watson in Week 15 after official 11-game suspension

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday afternoon, the NFL and NFL Players Association (NFLPA) officially reached a settlement regarding the status of Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Deshaun Watson. The agreement entails Watson being suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 season and includes a fine of $5 million.

This comes a few weeks after Watson was originally suspended for six games, a decision made by Sue L. Robinson. Robinson, a former federal judge, was appointed by the NFL and union as an independent disciplinary officer. The NFL appealed this decision for a six-game suspension, seeking a harsher punishment for Watson.

While it may not be the full-season suspension the league reportedly sought, this is a five-game increase from the original ruling. There’s other constipulations involved in the settlement too, such as Watson having to adhere to an outlined treatment program.

This news finally puts to bed speculation over whether or not Watson would suit up for the Browns this season. Had the original suspension remained intact, Watson’s first appearance of the year was scheduled to be against the Ravens in Week 7, at M&T Bank Stadium. Instead, it will now be on the road against the Houston Texans, his former team (surely that’s a coincidence), in Week 13.

So, Watson will not be under center for the Ravens vs. Browns matchup on October 23. That will likely be Jacoby Brissett, who the Browns signed this offseason to be their contingency starting quarterback in the event Watson would miss time. They also acquired former Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Joshua Dobbs to round out the depth chart.

After Watson’s first game back in Houston, the Browns will travel to Cincinnati to play the Bengals, before hosting the Ravens in Cleveland on December 18. The Ravens have previously faced Watson twice in his career, both in the Lamar Jackson-era. Baltimore won both of these meetings and did a pretty good job stifling Watson in the process.

In Week 11 of 2019, the Ravens blew the Texans out by 38 points in Baltimore by a score of 41-7. Then, in the second game of the 2020 season, they defeated Watson and the Texans in Houston 33-16. Watson was sacked 10 times over these two games and threw two interceptions to just one touchdown pass.

This coming December 18 will be the Ravens’ first look at the Watson-led Browns, which should very well be a formidable opponent given Watson’s ability and the talent Cleveland has on their roster. It could be the start of a new Jackson-Watson rivalry in the division, too.

While today’s conclusion puts some of the drama surrounding Watson and the Browns to bed, there may be a cloud looming over the quarterback for the foreseeable future. At least, if reaction he received from the crowd in Jacksonville last week is any indication.