Browns activate Deshaun Watson after ban, make Joshua Dobbs suffer

BEREA, Ohio – Cleveland officially added Deshaun Watson to its 53-man roster on Monday, paving the way for his Browns debut Sunday against his former team, the Houston Texans.

The Browns waived quarterback Joshua Dobbs in a corresponding move.

Watson was serving an 11-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the NFL, on massage therapists. He was also fined $5 million and required to undergo a mandatory treatment program.

Watson’s return on Sunday marks exactly 700 days since he last played in a regular season game (with the Texans on January 3, 2021).

Watson has been accused by more than two dozen women of assault and other inappropriate sexual misconduct during massage sessions. Over the summer, he agreed to settle 23 of the 24 lawsuits against him. A 25th lawsuit was dropped by the plaintiff when the judge ruled that her petition should be changed with her name. Two other women filed criminal charges against Watson but did not charge him. On October 13, another woman filed a lawsuit against Watson, alleging he pressured her to have oral sex during a massage session in 2020.

Two Texas grand juries declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year. Watson has repeatedly denied any allegations, saying people were not interested in his side of the story.

He still hasn’t spoken publicly since his suspension was announced in August, although he is expected to do so later this week.

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending the Texans three first-round draft picks. Cleveland also signed Watson to a five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, the richest contract in NFL history.

Watson has been practicing with the Browns since Nov. 16 and has been attending team meetings and training at the team’s training facility since Oct. 10.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said Monday that the team is “excited” to see him play.

“He’s done a good job with his time off, staying physically sharp, staying mentally sharp,” said Stefanski. “I think he’ll be ready to roll.”

Cleveland is 4-7 after Sunday’s overtime victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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