from Eric D. Williams
FOX Sports NFL Writer

of NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to an 11-game suspension Cleveland Browns center back Deshaun Watson on Thursday. The settlement includes a $5 million fine that will go to charity.

That means Watson won’t be available for Cleveland until Week 13, a Dec. 4 road game against the Houston Texans, his former team.

NFL independent arbitrator Sue Robinson initially handed down a six-game suspension following a 15-month NFL investigation into Watson and allegations of sexual misconduct against him.

Watson was accused of sexual assault and misconduct in civil lawsuits filed by 25 women, settling 23 of the 24 lawsuits while one of the lawsuits was dismissed. Two separate grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson.

However, the NFL, which wanted an indefinite, one-year suspension, appealed Robinson’s decision.

Deshaun Watson is suspended for 11 games

Deshaun Watson is suspended for 11 games

The NFL and NFLPA reached a settlement agreement over an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson. Colin Cowherd reacts to the news.

Peter Harvey, another independent arbitrator appointed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, waited to rule on the league’s appeal before a settlement was reached.

The Browns acquired Watson from Houston in March and signed him to a historic five-year, $230 million, fully guaranteed contract. Because of how Cleveland structured the deal, Watson will only forfeit $632,500 in salary during his suspension.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has said Jacoby Brissett will take over as Cleveland’s starter while Watson is out. The Browns signed Brissett a day after trading for Watson as an insurance policy in case the Clemson product was unavailable for part or all of the 2022 season.

“Evaluating Jacoby before we brought him here, everybody saw a decision maker, a great athlete and a person who can make all the shots, so I think that’s exciting,” Stefanski said. “Being around him in the meeting room β€” his ability to lead and read defenses β€” I’ve been very impressed.”

The Browns also have Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen on the roster to serve as depth behind Brissett.

“Brissett is going to play like he’s No. 1 regardless,” Browns quarterback Greg Newsome told reporters in Cleveland. β€œHe’s shown it many times in his career where he had to step in and be No. 1. … He’s a veteran. You can say it. He is prepared. He will always do the right thing, make sure the ball is in the right place. He’s been great so far.”

Brissett is 14-23 during his career as a starter, completing 60.2% of his passes for 7,742 yards, with 36 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. Last season, he was 2-3 as a starter for the Dolphins while filling in for an injured Tua Tagovailoa. He completed 62.7 percent of his passes and threw five touchdowns and four interceptions.

The 6-foot-4, 235-pound Brissett has some movement skills to extend plays like Watson, takes care of the football for the most part and gives a talented Cleveland team expected to make a deep playoff run- of a chance to win games without a starting quarterback.

However, with Watson out for more than the six games the Browns predicted a few weeks ago, perhaps it’s time for Cleveland to consider a move to a more experienced quarterback to keep them in the playoff hunt. A quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo.

Will the Browns look at Jimmy G?

Will the Browns look at Jimmy G?

Nick Wright and Kevin Wildes decide if Jimmy Garoppolo would be a good fit in Cleveland. reported that the Browns would consider going after Garoppolo if Watson’s suspension was extended. San Francisco has moved on from Garoppolo, choosing to start the No. 3 last year, Trey Lance, at quarterback.

Garoppolo underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, hampering the team’s ability to move him via a trade. However, the seven-year veteran is now healthy and working out at the team’s facility, and the Niners appear motivated to move him before making their final roster cuts on Aug. 30.

At issue will be Garoppolo’s $24.2 million non-guaranteed salary for next season. The 30-year-old quarterback should be willing to restructure his deal in a trade. If the Niners have no suitors, they may have to release Garoppolo, making him available around the league, including rivals like the Seattle Seahawks.

The Browns are already looking for $10.5 million of Baker Mayfield’s salary after trading him to the Carolina Panthers in July. So they’re not willing to pay Garoppolo the kind of money he would covet as a potential free agent.

On the field, however, Garoppolo is a clear upgrade over Brissett and could keep the team competitive in a tough AFC North until Watson returns in December.

Garoppolo is 33-14 as a starter, leading the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance and two NFL Championship Games during his five-year tenure in San Francisco. For his career, he has completed 67.7% of his passes for 11,852 passing yards, with 71 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a 98.9 passer rating.

Garoppolo has a 4-2 record in the postseason and a 4-1 record against AFC North teams during his time with the Niners.

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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