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Jan 15, 2024 11:01 am

QB Deshaun Watson remains Cleveland’s centerpiece

Quarterback Deshaun Watson wraps up rehab on his surgically repaired shoulder before springtime and is on schedule to join the team at full strength for organized team activities.

“I’m confident he’ll be ready to roll this spring. He’s champing at the bit, but he’s doing everything he’s supposed to do when it comes to what the doctors are telling him and as he rehabs through this, but he’ll be ready to roll,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said.

Watson missed the late-season surge and wild-card playoff loss to the Houston Texans with the offense piloted by Joe Flacco. Flacco is unsigned for next season but Stefanski supports bringing the veteran back to the roster as Watson’s backup.

“I’d leave all those things up to obviously (GM) Andrew (Berry) in this offseason,” Stefanski said. “I will say this about Joe: Joe was awesome for this football team. He did a great job. Battled like crazy. I know he enjoyed it. We obviously wish (the playoff) outcome was different, but I have a ton of respect for Joe and what he was able to do.”

Flacco turns 39 on Tuesday and had five 300-yard games, including at Houston on Saturday, after signing as a free agent to join the practice squad on Nov. 20.

Watson had ankle and two separate shoulder injuries that kept him out of the lineup most of the 2023 season. He had surgery on his throwing shoulder in December. Watson served an 11-game suspension in his first season with the Browns.

But Stefanski said there’s not a doubt the organization still views him as a franchise quarterback. Cleveland’s first-round pick is again owed to the team that eliminated the Browns from the playoffs as part of the massive payment for the trade for Watson. Watson also signed a $230 million fully guaranteed contract.

“We feel really confident in the roster Andrew’s put together. And Deshaun’s a huge part of that,” Stefanski said.

“I mean 4-1 as a starter, some really great moments, that second half versus Baltimore is something that I don’t know how many people on Earth can do what he did with the injuries that he had in that second half. So very excited for him. He’s excited. I know he wants to get back healthy and he is well on his way to doing that.”

–Field Level Media

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