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Deshaun Watson's season is over. 'You've got to be kidding me'

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a football.
Nick Wass
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) in action during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in Baltimore.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's season is over after he suffered a shoulder injury that requires surgery.

Ideastream Public Media sports commentator Terry Pluto said it comes after Watson's incredible second half performance beating the Baltimore Ravens.

"In the second half of that Baltimore game, he did something that I've never seen a quarterback do before. He threw 14 passes and completed them all," Pluto said. "He led the Browns in this dramatic comeback and you looked at that and go, 'Finally, this looked like the guy that the Browns, you know, traded all those six draft picks and gave all that money to.' And here it is Wednesday morning comes the thing from the team that he's out for the year."

The Browns are “devastated and disappointed” for Watson, but remain excited about what’s ahead for the 6-3 team, according to General Manager Andrew Berry.

But for fans, it's a tough blow, Pluto said.

“If you’re a Browns fan, you talk about going from the high point of the season to the low point within about, I don’t know, 72 hours,” he said.

Berry said the team is focused on the players currently in the quarterback room — P.J. Walker and rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson, but the team will look to add a third quarterback.

It’s a possibility Thompson-Robinson starts ahead of Walker, Pluto said, because the team liked him much more than Walker at the start of the season. Walker, though, is likely to get the nod.

Pluto said Thompson-Robinson was ill prepared to start in the first game against Baltimore in October, when the team found in pregame warmups that Watson couldn’t play after suffering a bruised rotator cuff in a win over Tennessee, his best game as a Brown.

Following the Browns' bye week, Walker was named the starter against then undefeated San Francisco and did just enough to get the Browns a 19-17 win.

Watson tried to return against Indianapolis, but was knocked out of that game early after hitting the turf with his back and shoulder. Walker returned and again made enough plays for a 39-38 win.

“Like a lot of fans, how do I go from Deshaun Watson, 14 passes, 14 completions, a big second half comeback in Baltimore, the Steelers coming to town and I’m starting to think about P.J. Walker or DTR (Dorian Thompson Robinson)?” Pluto said. “I can’t even get my brain around that.”

The Browns say they remain confident in Watson’s recovery and his status as their franchise quarterback.

Watson’s tenure with the Browns has been mostly disappointing. The team traded three first round draft picks to Houston and gave Watson a guaranteed $230 million deal, despite sexual assault allegations and related civil lawsuits. After an 11-game suspension in 2022 for violating the NFL’s conduct policy over sexual misconduct, Watson was not stellar in six games that season.

After restructuring his five-year contract, Watson is projected to count for more than $60 million against the salary cap in 2024, the third year of the deal.

Pluto worries about the impact to the team of Watson's injury, on top of others, including to all-pro running back Nick Chubb.

"Just like how the fans become very discouraged and go, 'You've got to be kidding me,' that runs through the locker room, too," Pluto said. "This is a tremendous downer for them."

Ideastream Public Media's Glenn Forbes contributed to this story.

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