Jacoby Brissett To Start Week 1 vs. Panthers Amid Deshaun Watson’s Suspension for Alleged Sexual Misconduct

Jacoby Brissett To Start Week 1 vs. Panthers Amid Deshaun Watson’s Suspension for Alleged Sexual Misconduct article feature image

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images via Getty Images. Pictured: Deshaun Watson (left) and Jacoby Brissett (right).

Jacoby Brissett is now expected to start for the Cleveland Browns through Week 7 following Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension.

Watson's suspension comes from an independent arbiter, pending a potential NFL appeal, after two dozen women filed civil lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct.

Watson has reached settlements with all but one of those alleged victims. He's denied all related allegations.

The independent arbiter was agreed upon by the NFL and the NFL's player union. The NFL had been lobbying for a full-year suspension and could still appeal, though the league said in a statement Monday that they were still undecided.

Watson is being accused of sexual misconduct against at least two dozen women he solicited for massages dating back to the fall of 2019.

A Texas grand jury had declined in March to pursue charges against Watson over the allegations. Shortly afterward, Watson was traded from the Texans to the Browns and signed one of the biggest contracts in NFL history — a five-year, $230-million deal that will pay him $46 million per year.

As part of this suspension, Watson will only lose roughly $333,333 in salary because his base salary is just $1 million, with the rest paid out in the form of a signing bonus. The Browns had accounted for a potential suspension in the structuring of his nascent contract.

Brissett is now expected to start for the Browns, including for a Week 1 affair that may see former Cleveland starting quarterback Baker Mayfield face off against the team that drafted him No. 1 overall.

Mayfield and former No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold are still in the midst of a quarterback competition in Carolina. The game against the Browns would be Mayfield's first game in another uniform.

Odds for that contest opened at roughly Browns -4.5 before it became clear that Watson would be suspended in some capacity. Some sportsbooks stuck to that number, but others had the game priced at about Browns -2.5.

Then, the Mayfield trade earlier this month moved that line to a consensus -1 across the board.

That's the spread as it stands at DraftKings, Caesars, BetMGM and FanDuel, indicating the market had already accounted for Watson's imminent suspension.

Sean Koerner, Action Network's Director of Predictive Analytics, also projects the Browns' Week 1 line at -1, so the marketplace isn't providing any edge for this contest.

The market, however, is more bullish on the Browns now that Watson won't be missing the entire year.

DraftKings moved their odds on the Browns to win the Super Bowl from +3000 to +2500. FanDuel has moved their odds in the same market from +2800 to +2200. BetMGM moved their odds from +3000 to +2000.

So, the Browns have roughly 1% better implied odds to win the Super Bowl with Watson available for 11 games.

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