Why Deshaun Watson is allowed to play in Browns preseason games despite NFL suspension

Getty Images

It will be at least a few weeks until Browns fans get to see Deshaun Watson make his regular-season debut for the team. It might not be until 2023, depending on the results of the NFL's appeal of Watson's six-game suspension. But they will get a chance to see him play in the preseason.

While Watson will miss extended NFL regular-season time, he is slated to take snaps during preseason games, something that's not entirely common for confirmed starters. There is no indication yet how much playing time Watson will receive.

Here is why Watson will likely be playing in the preseason:

MORE: Why Deshaun Watson won't play in Week 1

Is Deshaun Watson playing in the preseason?

Once the 2022 NFL regular season comes around, Watson will be unable to play in at least the first six games. But he will see game action prior to the start of the campaign.

According to a report by Pro Football Talk, the Browns will have Watson play during the preseason, though the number of snaps and games remains unknown. Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot reported Watson made the trip to Jacksonville to play in the team's first preseason game.

On Wednesday, the Browns announced its starters vs. the Jaguars, naming Watson the starting QB. The team attempted to gloss over the magnitude of the announcement, with the sub-headline reading, "QB Deshaun Watson is also scheduled to start."

Why Watson can practice and play in preseason games despite suspension, appeal

The reason he will be allowed to play during the preseason is because his suspension right now does not go into effect until Week 1 of the regular season. If the NFL imposes an indefinite suspension upon appeal, however, it is possible Watson could be banned immediately and be ineligible to play during the preseason, Pro Football Talk reported.

MORE: Who is the NFL's designee to decide Deshaun Watson's suspension?

As NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported, players suspended for less than a year are typically allowed to participate in all preseason activities.

However, if Watson is suspended for a full season at the end of the appeal process, it could hold him out for the remainder of the preseason if the suspension goes into effect immediately.

It makes plenty of sense that the Browns would want Watson to play during the preseason. The last time he was on the field in a competitive setting — NFL preseason or regular season — was Jan. 3, 2021, meaning it has been more than a year and a half since he has played competitive football.

The Browns have four quarterbacks on their roster. Jacoby Brissett is slated to start with Watson out. Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen are the backups. Brissett appeared in 11 games last year for the Dolphins and started five. Dobbs has appeared in only six games in his NFL career, attempting 12 passes in 2018 and five in 2020. Rosen appeared in four games in 2021 for the Falcons, who were his fifth stop in the NFL, after the Cardinals (2018), Dolphins (2019), Buccaneers (2020) and 49ers (2020).

MORE: Everything to know about Watson's suspension

Watson decided prior to the start of the 2021 season to sit out the entire campaign. He did not play in any preseason or regular-season games for the Texans.

The Browns begin their preseason schedule on Aug. 12 at the Jaguars. Cleveland will then host the Eagles on Aug. 21 and the Bears on Aug. 27.

Author(s)
Edward Sutelan is a content producer at The Sporting News.
LATEST VIDEOS