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Browns reportedly still 'all-in' on Deshaun Watson amid new allegations

Yardbarker logo Yardbarker 6/10/2022 Zac Wassink, Yardbarker
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson had two more civil suits levied against him recently. © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson had two more civil suits levied against him recently.

Shortly after it was learned earlier this week that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was now facing 24 active civil lawsuits regarding allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions, Rusty Hardin, one of the attorneys representing Watson, remarked via a statement that "we are unable to respond to the new lawsuit at this time" because "our legal team has not had time to investigate this new filing and had not heard her name until today." 

The situation apparently changed ahead of the weekend. 

Watson's name returned to headlines after Tuesday's New York Times story went viral and alleged, among other things, that the 26-year-old met with at least 66 different women for massage appointments from fall 2019 through spring 2021. Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the plaintiffs suing Watson, later confirmed his firm will add "the Houston Texans organization (Watson's former employer) and others as defendants" in the lawsuits for their supposed roles in enabling Watson's alleged conduct. 

Some in the sports world speculated the Browns could look to void the fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract they awarded Watson in March. However, Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported Friday that's not the case and that the Browns "are still all-in" on the controversial signal-caller serving as their starter this fall as long as he isn't suspended for violating the NFL's code of conduct. 

"The Browns do have typical club protection in the five-year deal — and extra protection as first reported in April by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk — that would enable them to void the contract in the event actions take place after it was signed, or actions from beforehand that come to light that would prevent him from fulfilling his duties," Cabot wrote.

Cabot added: 

"Likewise, sources say nothing has taken place that has the Browns pondering trying to void the blockbuster trade with the Texans — which included the Browns sending three first-round draft picks and three other picks to the Texans in exchange for Watson and a sixth-rounder — even though the Texans will be soon be added to the suits as a defendant for allegedly enabling Watson’s misconduct."

Hardin responded to the week's events in a statement texted to Cleveland.com. 

"The Browns and all of us that know Deshaun are still totally behind him," Hardin said. "These latest claims by Buzbee change nothing, and they are totally false, and that will ultimately be what everyone concludes when they hear the evidence."

Regardless of Hardin's latest comments, it's widely believed Watson will be suspended for part or all of the 2022 season. Jacoby Brissett is on track to become Cleveland's temporary QB1 if Watson is made ineligible to play before or during the campaign. 

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