Browns QB: If Deshaun Watson Is Suspended, Who Should Start?

June 21, 2022

Who do you think will start for the Browns at QB this season?

The Cleveland Browns have been one of the biggest stories during the 2022 NFL offseason, and most of it had to do with them playing quarterback musical chairs. They brought three new quarterbacks in Deshaun Watson, Jacoby Brissett, and Joshua Dobbs. They still have their 2018 number one overall pick, Baker Mayfield, sitting on the roster waiting to be moved.

The Browns traded for Watson to upgrade their quarterback position for the future but for the 2022 season, nobody has any idea if Watson will be wearing the brown and orange. 

Watson, who has 26 civil lawsuits against him for sexual misconduct, could be facing a heavy suspension from the NFL. There has been no timeline yet for when the NFL will announce a suspension or how many games he will be suspended for. 

There is a good chance that Watson will be suspended for part or all of the 2022 season. The Browns are going to have to come up with a game plan to work around this so they will be able to compete in the 2022 season. 

Browns Quarterback Options

The Browns have three quarterbacks on their roster who could start for a suspended Watson. 

Baker Mayfield is not the answer, but he’s still on the roster, so I guess anything is possible. Mayfield requested a trade from the Browns back in March, and they still have not been able to find a trade partner that will agree to all the terms that they want. Mayfield will play on his fifth-year option this season, and his money is guaranteed. He will be making close to 19 million dollars this season, which is why he is still sitting on their roster. 

Mayfield was excused from mandatory minicamp last week, and it doesn’t look like he will ever step foot back in Cleveland’s facility. It is an extreme long shot that Mayfield will ever take a snap for the Browns again, but until he is traded or released, he will be a name that comes up to start for a suspended Watson. 

Jacoby Brissett will likely be the Brown’s starter if Watson is suspended. Brissett, who played for the Patriots, Colts, and Dolphins, has started 37 games in the NFL and has a record of 14-23. 

Brissett has the experience to be able to be a game manager and keep the Browns in games. I think the Browns have enough talent around him to keep him calm and comfortable under center. I don’t expect Brissett to lead the Browns on game-winning drives, but if the Browns can get off to an early lead in games as they did in the 2020 season and be able to chew the clock, I think they will be just fine with Brissett.

Joshua Dobbs has spent time on the Steelers and Jaguars roster and will be competing for a roster spot in training camp. I don’t see Dobbs in line as a starter if Watson gets suspended, but he will probably be Brissett’s backup. 

Dobbs only has thrown a total of 17 passes in the NFL over six games, so if something were to happen to Brissett, they could be in serious trouble.

Could They Make A Move For Another Quarterback?

There’s also a low possibility that the Browns starting quarterback for Week One isn’t on their roster at the moment. 

There have been many discussions over the past few weeks about Baker Mayfield being traded to the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers already have the 2018 third-overall pick, Sam Darnold, and the 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral at the quarterback position. 

There has been some speculation that the Browns and Panthers could make a trade that sends Baker to Carolina and Darnold to Cleveland. Darnold is also playing on his fifth-year option for around 19 million dollars, and it probably wouldn’t make sense to have both Mayfield and Darnold in Carolina. The Browns will have to take on a good portion of Mayfield’s contract to trade him, but if Carolina and Cleveland were to swap quarterbacks, they could finally move on from Mayfield, and Darnold can find his third NFL home. 

I don’t see this as a real possibility, but if Watson were to be suspended for a long time, it might not hurt to bring in another quarterback who has experience at the position and is in a contract year.             

The most likely scenario for the Browns’ 2022 season is that Watson is suspended for about six to ten games, and Brissett has to hold down the starting job.