Deshaun Watson is back.
The Cleveland Browns quarterback has officially reached the first stage of his tiered reinstatement process during his 11-game sexual misconduct suspension. Watson has reportedly received clearance by the NFL to return to the team’s practice facility Monday. As part of the terms of his suspension, which also included a $5 million fine, the Cleveland Browns controversial QB1 can now begin his reintegration back into the locker room and team structure. Of course upon his return, there is a long list of stipulations that Watson must follow.
Watson can’t practice with the team until Nov. 14. He won’t be eligible to play again until Week 13, when the Browns travel to face his former team, the Houston Texans, on Dec. 4.
Since Aug. 30, Watson has been banned from having contact with Browns coaches or entering the practice facility. He’s been working out on his own with his personal quarterback coach, Quincy Avery.
The suspension stipulations also require Watson to continue meeting mandatory counseling and mental health evaluations before moving forward.
Watson has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing:
“I’ll continue to stand on my innocence, just because, you know, settlements and things like that happen doesn’t mean that a person is guilty for anything,” he said Aug. 18, after the settlement agreement. “I feel like a person has an opportunity to stand on his innocence and prove that, and we proved that from a legal side, and just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.”
In his Monday news conference, head coach Kevin Stefanski said he saw Watson in the building that morning for the first time since the quarterback’s suspension began in late August.
“We’ll work through what we’re allowed to do with him for the foreseeable future,” Stefanski said, via Akron Beacon Journal. “I believe he’s in the meeting rooms with our guys and he’s in there with the guys right now, which is great for him and us to have him back with his teammates. I know he can’t be out on the field and working out just yet with guys, so we’ll just take that one day by day.”
Cleveland gave Watson a new five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, the richest contract in NFL history.
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