The Cleveland Browns now know how long they'll operate without Deshaun Watson.
On Thursday, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to a settlement for an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine. While this was already the case before the NFL appealed an independent judge's six-game ruling, the Browns are preparing to start the season with Jacoby Brissett under center.
Per Cleveland.com's Dan Labbe, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said they're "pretty comfortable" with their current situation before Watson returns.
“We’re excited about Jacoby and have a ton of trust in Jacoby, and when Deshaun is ready, he’ll rejoin the team,” Stefanski said.
Stefanski endorsed the 29-year-old as the consummate teammate and a strong leader.
“I think back to when we were acquiring Jacoby, the phone calls that I made to people he’s played for, people that he’s played with, it was very, very consistent in that you’re getting a pro’s pro,” Stefanski said. “Somebody who’s going to lead from out in front, works very hard at his craft and is just an outstanding teammate.”
Cleveland marks Brissett's third stop in as many years. He's posted an 83.0 quarterback rating over his six-year career with 36 passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions.
The Browns don't appear to be in a rush to acquire any competition for the starting job. Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports said they won't trade for Jimmy Garroppolo due to his bloated salary, but they'll "continue to monitor" the situation if the San Francisco 49ers cut him.
Brissett is a decent veteran capable of keeping a strong roster afloat, especially during an early schedule consisting of winnable games against the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, and Atlanta Falcons.
However, Watson's extended suspension now means Cleveland also won't have him for a difficult stretch including the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, Buffalo Bills, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For now, the Browns will rely on Brissett to keep them in playoff contention before Watson can return in Week 13.