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After the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed Thursday to a harsher suspension for Deshaun Watson, the embattled quarterback will now make his debut for the Cleveland Browns in Week 13 when they take on the Houston Texans.
Watson, 26, will next be eligible to play for the Browns on Dec. 4 when he returns to NRG Stadium to face his former team. Watson was playing for the Texans when 24 women accused him of sexual assault during massage therapy sessions.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson during the game against the Jaguars on Aug. 12, 2022, at TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. (David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
“I stood on my innocence and always said I never assaulted anyone or disrespected anyone and I continue to stand on that,” Watson told reporters following the NFL’s announcement. “But at the same time, I have to continue to push forward in my life and my career. For us to be able to move forward, I have to be able to take steps and put pride to the side.”
Watson was suspended for six games with no fine by an independent disciplinary officer last month, but the league appealed the ruling, after initially seeking at least a one-year suspension. On Thursday, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to an 11-game suspension and a $5 million fine.
Deshaun Watson looks on during the Cleveland Browns’ offseason workout at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on June 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images)
There’s no guarantee that Watson will return in his first eligible week but if he does, tensions will be high.
Watson requested a trade from the Texans following the 2020 season over issues with the front office. Houston was not inclined to adhere to his request when the allegations of sexual assault emerged.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson celebrates a touchdown against the Colts on Dec. 20, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger, File)
Following a year-long standoff, Watson was traded to the Browns in March in exchange for three first-round draft picks and a lucrative contract.
Houston also settled with 30 women who accused the organization of enabling Watson’s abuse.
Paulina Dedaj is a Digital Reporter for Fox News and Fox Business. Follow Paulina Dedaj on Twitter at @PaulinaDedaj. If you’ve got a tip, you can email Paulina at Paulina.Dedaj@fox.com