The Browns quarterback officially began his 11-game suspension Tuesday, meaning he was barred from team facilities as of 4 p.m. ET. The Akron Beacon-Journal's Chris Easterling reports that Watson wasn't on the field when practice began at 3 p.m. and that he left the property five minutes later.
Per the Beacon-Journal, his suspension stipulates that he's not permitted to return to Browns facilities until Oct. 10. That's the Monday after Cleveland's Week 5 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers. He'll then be barred from practicing or running drills with the team until Nov. 14, a day after Cleveland's Week 10 matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
Then he'll be allowed to practice, providing he and the Browns three weeks of working together before he's permitted to return to live action in Week 13 against the Houston Texans, his former team. Until he returns to facilities, he's on his own.
"I know he's going to be away here for a couple days here at least to start," head coach Kevin Stefanski said, per the Beacon Journal. "I think he has a really good plan.
"Obviously, as you know, we can't direct it, we can't follow up with him. It's really no contact with until Oct. 10. I'm confident he has a really good plan to do some good work while he's away from the building."
General manager Andrew Berry added that Watson will continue to attend counseling during his absence from the team.
“While I won't go into heavy details there, definitely a plan in place to keep him physically sharp, and he'll continue to engage in the counseling that he's already begun,” Berry said.
Watson is serving an 11-game suspension and was ordered to pay a $5 million fine after 24 women accused him in civil action of varying degrees of sexual assault and sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. Independent arbitrator Sue L. Robinson initially handed Watson a six-game suspension after Watson's disciplinary hearing for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy.
The NFL appealed the decision while seeking a stiffer penalty, and the two sides reached a settlement on the 11-game ban before a separate arbitrator appointed by the NFL made his decision. After the settlement, Watson maintained that "I never assaulted or disrespected anyone."
Watson's accusers described a range of alleged violations, including unwanted touching of genitals, forcing a massage therapist to touch his genitals and forcing a woman to perform oral sex. Per the accusers' attorney Tony Buzbee, Watson reached settlement agreements with 23 of his 24 accusers. Terms of the settlements weren't announced. Two grand juries in Texas declined in March to indict Watson on criminal charges.
Watson sat out the entire 2021 season with the Texas amid the emerging allegations. The Browns then traded for Watson this offseason and signed him to the richest guaranteed contract in NFL history with the hope that the three-time Pro Bowler can elevate a talented roster into Super Bowl contention. Six-year veteran and part-time NFL starter Jacoby Brissett is slated to play quarterback for Cleveland during Watson's ban.