The Cleveland Browns have built a roster that will enter the 2022 NFL season with the talent to finally shake off years of disappointment.
The Browns have the best offensive line in the AFC and the second-best in the league, a running back room that is the envy of every other team, a rebuilt wide receiver group that does not include any players who will quit on the team halfway through the season, a defensive end group led by Myles Garrett, second-year linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, and one of the game’s top secondaries.
The only major stumbling block, as it has been for decades now, is the quarterback position, but this time under different circumstances.
Deshaun Watson is the best quarterback the Browns will put on the field since the heyday of Bernie Kosar in the late 1980s. The only problem is that the Browns don’t yet know when Watson will be available as everyone is waiting for a ruling from Sue L. Robinson, the NFL and NFL Players Association’s jointly appointed disciplinary officer, into how much of a suspension Watson will face for possible violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
While the Browns are talented enough — and the schedule is forgiving enough in the early going — to hold up if Watson misses several weeks to open the season, a season-long suspension would likely derail any serious playoff aspirations.
That thinking is in line with Pro Football Focus’ latest power rankings ahead of the 2022 season, with the Browns checking in at No. 10 under the category of “Could Be Their Year”:
So much of Cleveland’s success hinges on Deshaun Watson‘s availability, which remains completely up in the air as the NFL works toward the conclusion of its investigation into his sexual assault accusations. Even without Watson, the Browns should be a playoff team. They almost made it last season with Baker Mayfield playing from Week 2 on with a badly injured shoulder. A healthy Mayfield this season raises the floor a lot, and Watson for the entire season likely makes them real contenders.
The Browns are built for success this season and for several more after that if they can finally get consistent play at the quarterback position.
It is a situation the team has often found itself in over the years, but this time for very different reasons.