BEREA, Ohio – Deshaun Watson left the Cleveland Browns’ training facility Tuesday to begin serving his 11-game suspension.
Watson can’t return to the facility or have any contact with the Browns until Oct. 10, and he can’t practice again until Nov. 14.
On August 18, the NFL and the NFL Players Association reached an agreement on the suspension of Watson, who has been accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
The Browns placed Watson on the reserve/suspended list Tuesday, shortly before their afternoon practice. Watson was not on the field.
Coach Kevin Stefanski said he met with Watson before the quarterback left the facility ahead of Tuesday’s deadline at 4 pm ET.
“I think he has a very good plan,” Stefanski said. “Obviously, as you know, we can’t direct him. We can’t follow up with him. There’s really no contact with him until Oct. 10. But I’m confident he has a good plan to do a good job while he’s away.”
Stefanski wouldn’t say whether Watson will stay in Cleveland during the no-contact portion of the suspension, though he did admit Watson would be leaving town initially.
Stefanski noted that Watson will work with his personal quarterback trainer, Quincy Avery.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for him right now while he’s out of this building to work on football, work on himself, work on a bunch of different things,” Stefanski said.
Under the settlement, Watson was also fined $5 million and must comply with mandatory treatment and counseling to be reinstated. Watson is eligible to play again in Week 13 against the Houston Texans, his former team. If he does not comply with the treatment plan, his reinstatement may be delayed and he may be subject to further disciplinary action.
Watson has continued to deny any wrongdoing, despite agreeing to the deal and apologizing in a statement the team sent immediately after the deal was announced.
“It doesn’t mean that a person is guilty of anything,” he told reporters on August 18. “I feel like a person has an opportunity to defend his innocence and prove it, and we prove it from a legal standpoint, and I will continue to move forward as an individual and as a person.”
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage therapy sessions in lawsuits brought by 25 women. One of the 25 lawsuits, one was dismissed. Watson has either settled or agreed to settle all but one of the remaining lawsuits, which remains pending. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson, but did not sue him.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, but disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a joint appointee of the NFL and the NFLPA, concluded that Watson violated the personal conduct policy with behavior ” heinous” and “predatory”. . She suspended Watson for six games, citing his “expressed lack of remorse” as an aggravating factor.
The NFL appealed Robinson’s six-game decision, though he eventually settled with the NFLPA despite asking for a one-season suspension.
The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.
Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has been named Cleveland’s starter for the 11 games Watson is out.