Deshaun Watson is serving an 11-game suspension.

Syndication Akron Beacon Journal

Browns QB Deshaun Watson ‘focusing on football’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson spoke to reporters on Thursday for the first time since returning from his 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.

Watson was quick to express his excitement to return to the field and his appreciation for his teammates and the Browns organization as well as the fans in Cleveland.

“I understand that you guys have a lot of questions, but with my legal team and my clinical team, there’s only football questions that I can really address at this time,” Watson said.

Watson, 27, was suspended and fined $5 million in August for off-field conduct violations related to “predatory” behavior involving more than two dozen women who alleged sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.

On Thursday, Watson deflected several questions that dealt with matters off the field. His primary focus, he said, was his on-field return on Sunday against the Houston Texans, the team that selected him with the top overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft and ultimately traded him to the Browns last March.

He declined to address whether he had learned anything from the league-mandated counseling that accompanied his suspension.

“That’s more in that phase of clinical and legal stuff,” Watson said. “I’ve been advised to stay away from that and keep that personal. … I’m focusing on football. That’s my main focus is football and preparing to be the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns so I can execute the game plan to try to get a win this Sunday.”

The Browns (4-7) are 1-4 on the road heading into Sunday’s game against the Texans (1-9-1).

A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watson has not played in a game since Jan. 3, 2021.

Watson completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions in four seasons with Houston. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regular-season record as a starter.

–Field Level Media

Aug 21, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Jerome Ford (34) runs with the ball as Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Josiah Scott (33) defends during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Browns activate RB Jerome Ford from injured reserve

The Cleveland Browns activated rookie running back Jerome Ford from injured reserve among a series of roster moves on Saturday.

Ford, a fifth-round draft pick, sustained an ankle injury at Atlanta in Week 4 and was placed on IR on Oct. 4. He has returned six kickoffs for 145 yards (24.2 average) in four games.

Coming off a bye week, the Browns (3-5) also signed defensive tackle Roderick Perry II to the active roster from the practice squad for Sunday’s road game against the Miami Dolphins (6-3).

Cleveland also waived defensive end Isaac Rochell and elevated linebacker Jermaine Carter Jr. and tight end Miller Forristall from the practice squad.

–Field Level Media

Sep 22, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns linebacker Jacob Phillips (50) celebrates after a sack of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mitch Trubisky (not pictured) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

Browns place LB Jacob Phillips (pectoral) on IR

The Cleveland Browns placed leading tackler Jacob Phillips on injured reserve Wednesday with what is expected to be a season-ending pectoral injury.

The 23-year-old linebacker recorded seven tackles in Sunday’s 23-20 loss to the Baltimore Ravens before exiting with the injury.

Phillips has 46 tackles and two sacks in seven games (four starts) this season. He has 88 tackles and three sacks in 20 games (eight starts) since the Browns drafted him in the third round in 2020.

“I feel for all of our guys when they are going through these,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It’s not fun to be hurt. It’s not fun to be in the training room. It’s not fun to go get surgery. Unfortunately, Jacob has had to do that. I know this, he responds when he has to do this. He works like crazy. I know he’ll work like crazy to get back out there.”

Phillips missed the first 12 games last season with a biceps injury.

Phillips had moved into the starting role at middle linebacker after Anthony Walker Jr. suffered a season-ending quad injury in Week 3.

Former Pro Bowler Deion Jones, acquired in an Oct. 10 trade with the Atlanta Falcons, is expected to take over that role in Phillips’ absence.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) throws a pass as Cleveland Browns defensive end Isaac Rochell (98) and defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey (97) defend during the first half at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers do just enough to get past Browns 30-28

Austin Ekeler rushed for 173 yards with a touchdown and the visiting Los Angeles Chargers held on for a 30-28 win against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Cleveland kicker Cade York missed a 54-yard field goal with 11 seconds left as Los Angeles sealed the victory despite turning the ball over on downs near midfield with just over a minute remaining.

Justin Herbert completed 22 of 34 passes for 228 yards and a touchdown, and Mike Williams caught 10 passes for 134 yards for the Chargers (3-2), who climbed out of an early 14-0 deficit.

Cleveland running back Nick Chubb surpassed 100 rushing yards for the fourth time in five games. He finished with 134 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Browns (2-3).

Chargers kicker Taylor Bertolet kicked his third field goal of the game, a 27-yarder, to give the Chargers a 30-28 lead with 9:29 remaining.

The Chargers went for it on 4th and 2 from the Los Angeles 46 with 1:13 left and Herbert threw incomplete, setting up Cleveland’s potential winning field-goal try.

The Browns took a 21-17 lead into the half behind 95 rushing yards and two touchdowns from Chubb.

Ekeler scored on a 22-yard touchdown run to give the Chargers a 24-21 lead with 10:21 left in the third quarter.

Bertolet’s 25-yard field goal stretched the lead to 27-21 with 5:47 left in the third quarter. Bertolet was signed to the practice squad earlier in the week because Dustin Hopkins has a quad injury.

The Browns regainedk the lead 28-27 on a 2-yard touchdown run by Kareem Hunt with 55 seconds left in the third.

Chubb scored on a 41-yard run to give the Browns a 7-0 lead with 12:01 left in the first quarter.

Amari Cooper caught an 11-yard touchdown pass to stretch the lead to 14-0 lead with 4:01 left in the opening quarter.

Chargers backup running back Joshua Kelley scored on a 5-yard run to make it 14-10 with 13:39 left in the first half.

The Chargers then put together a 99-yard drive and took a 17-14 lead on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Herbert to Ekeler with 5:51 left in the half.

Chubb came back with a 2-yard touchdown run to move the Browns back in front 21-17 with 2:55 left in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns cornerback Greedy Williams participates in a pass rushing drill during training camp on Friday, July 29, 2022 in Berea.

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Browns place CB Greedy Williams (hamstring) on IR

The Cleveland Browns placed cornerback Greedy Williams on injured reserve Friday with a hamstring injury.

The 2019 second-round pick will miss at least the first four games, starting with Sunday’s opener at the Carolina Panthers.

Williams, 24, started eight of his 16 games last season and tallied two interceptions, 10 passes defensed and 41 tackles.

The Browns signed cornerback Herb Miller to the active roster from the practice squad in a corresponding transaction.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns linebacker Chris Odom (61) is carted off the field during the second half of an NFL preseason football game against the Chicago Bears, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio.

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Browns lose DE Chris Odom, USFL star, to torn ACL

Cleveland Browns defensive end Chris Odom sustained a season-ending ACL injury in Saturday’s preseason finale against the Chicago Bears, coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed Sunday.

The Browns signed Odom on Aug. 5 following an outstanding season with the USFL’s Houston Gamblers.

He was the 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year with 12.5 sacks, six forced fumbles and four blocked kicks.

Odom, 27, previously played in the NFL with the Green Bay Packers (2017) and Washington (2019). He registered 16 tackles, two sacks and one forced fumble in 11 games.

–Field Level Media

Former OU quarterback Baker Mayfield speaks to the crowd at Owen Field on April 23 in Norman.

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Browns QB Baker Mayfield: Both sides ‘ready to move on’

Baker Mayfield says that he and the Cleveland Browns are both “ready to move on.”

The 27-year-old quarterback spoke with reporters Tuesday at his youth football camp in Norman, Okla.

Mayfield didn’t completely rule out a reconciliation if the NFL suspends his replacement, Deshaun Watson.

“I think for that to happen there would have to be some reaching out,” Mayfield said. “But we’re ready to move on, I think — on both sides.”

Watson, 26, is scheduled to have a hearing with disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson on Tuesday.

The hearing will center on the 26 women who accused Watson of unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual conduct during massage appointments during his time with the Houston Texas.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

Mayfield has been excused from the Browns’ offseason activities while the team attempts to find a trade partner.

He is due a fully guaranteed salary of $18.86 million in 2022, the final season of his rookie contract.

Mayfield is 29-30 as a starter since the Browns made him the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks to the media after minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson: ‘I just want to clear my name’

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson denied engaging in sexual misconduct with any of the 24 massage therapists who have filed lawsuits against him.

“I’ve never forced anyone. I’ve never assaulted anyone,” Watson said Tuesday, speaking to reporters for the first time since his introductory press conference with Cleveland on March 25. “I’ve been saying it from the beginning and I’m going to continue to say it.”

Watson, 26, answered questions for about 10 minutes on the opening day of Cleveland’s mandatory minicamp.

“I just want to clear my name,” he said when asked whether he is open to settling the cases pending against him.

Watson was also asked how he has handled the media attention, including a segment on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” and a New York Times article that said Watson met with at least 66 female massage therapists in a period of 17 months.

“Honestly, it’s been tough, making sure I stay balanced with my mental life,” Watson said.

The women suing him allege that the former Houston Texans quarterback committed sexual improprieties during the course of massages. Two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against him earlier this year.

While he continues to maintain he did nothing wrong and has no regrets, he said he is sorry for the impact the situation has had on his loved ones and the team.

“I do understand that I do have regrets as far as the impact that (it’s had) on the community and people outside of just myself,” Watson said. “And that includes my family. That includes this organization. That includes my teammates in this locker room that have to answer to these questions. That includes the fan base of the Cleveland Browns. That includes males, females, everyone across the, the world. That’s one thing I do regret is the impact that it’s triggered on so many people. It’s tough to have to deal with.”

The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

The NFL continues to investigate and recently wrapped up its interviews with Watson. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the NFL could suspend him for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

None of the lawsuits against Watson are expected to go to trial until after March 1, 2023. Recent reports said two more women are planning to file suits.

Watson did not play during the 2021 NFL season. In 2020, the three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and set a career high with 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Nov 21, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward (21) intercepts the ball from Detroit Lions wide receiver Josh Reynolds (8) during the third quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: Browns sign CB Denzel Ward to $100.5M extension

The Cleveland Browns are making Denzel Ward the highest-paid cornerback in NFL history.

Ward agreed Monday to a five-year, $100.5 million extension with $71.25 million guaranteed, per multiple reports.

Agent Tory Dandy of CAA Sports confirmed the deal with ESPN.

Ward, who turns 25 on April 28, was the No. 4 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft and earned his second Pro Bowl selection in 2021.

He registered three interceptions in 15 starts last season, including a 99-yard pick-six at Cincinnati in Week 9.

Ward has 10 interceptions, 50 passes defensed, three fumble recoveries and 186 tackles in 52 games (51 starts).

The average annual value (AAV) of the extension is $20.1 million, edging Jalen Ramsey of the Rams ($20 million), Marshon Lattimore of the Saints ($19.52 million) and Marlon Humphrey of the Ravens ($19.5 million) for the highest among NFL cornerbacks, according to Spotrac.

Ward was due to earn a base salary of $13.3 million in 2022 on the fifth-year option of his rookie contract.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks off the field following an interception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens at FirstEnergy Stadium, Sunday, Dec. 12, 2021, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

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Baker Mayfield hints at goodbye in letter to Cleveland

Baker Mayfield ended his social-media silence Tuesday night to write an open letter to Cleveland Browns fans with language that sounded much like a goodbye note.

The letter came on the same day that Browns executives flew to Houston to meet with quarterback Deshaun Watson in hopes of luring him to Cleveland.

Mayfield, 26, has spent four seasons with the Browns since being selected No. 1 overall in 2018 out of Oklahoma. He prefaced his note by saying, “With many uncertainties, here is where my head and heart is.”

He attached the following letter:

“Cleveland,

“The past 4 years have been nothing short of truly life changing since I heard my name called in the draft to go to Cleveland. This is not a message with hidden meaning. This is strictly to thank the city of Cleveland for embracing my family and me. We have made many memories and shared growing in this process through all the ups and downs. I have no clue what happens next, which is the meaning behind the silence I have had during the duration of this process. I can only control what I can, which is trusting in God’s plan throughout this process.

“I have given this franchise everything I have. That is something I’ve always done at every stage, and at every level. And that will not change wherever I take my next snap. Whatever happens… I just want to say thank you to the fans who truly embraced who I am and the mentality that aligned so well with this city’s hard working people. Cleveland will always be a part of Emily and my story. And we will always be thankful for the impact it has had and will have in our lives.

“Sincerely,

“Baker Reagan Mayfield.”

If Mayfield is traded, he reportedly would prefer to go to the Indianapolis Colts. He has posted a 29-30 record in four seasons with the Browns, during which he has passed for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions. He also has rushed for 571 yards and five touchdowns.

Watson is not guaranteed to land with the Browns. Other teams such as the New Orleans Saints are considered to have a strong chance to acquire him.

However, according to Cleveland.com, the Browns could look to trade Mayfield either way “because of the awkward nature of returning to a team that tried to replace him.”

–Field Level Media