The Cleveland Browns ruled out quarterback Deshaun Watson for the remainder of the season on Wednesday morning after an MRI revealed he needs surgery on his right shoulder.
Watson, a right-handed passer, underwent an MRI on his shoulder after he was injured during a 33-31 victory over the Baltimore Ravens this past Sunday. He was diagnosed with a left high ankle sprain in addition to a displaced fracture in his shoulder.
“I’m still in disbelief. I’m still trying to process all the information,” Watson said. “I felt like we were turning a corner to really make a run and still believe we still will with the guys in this locker room. I just wanted to physically be a part of it. … It’s tough to try to wrap everything around my head right now.”
Browns general manager Andrew Berry said doctors indicated Watson should not have been able to play with the injury.
“For Deshaun to play, call it 2 1/2 quarters, at a really high level against one of the best defenses in the league with this injury plus the high ankle (injury), it really is an incredible display of physical and mental toughness,” Berry said.
The Browns said doctors were concerned about further structural damage.
“Despite performing at a high level and finishing the game, after consultation with Browns’ Head Physician, James Voos, MD, and industry-leading shoulder specialist, Neal ElAttrache, MD, it has been determined that this injury will require immediate surgical repair to avoid further structural damage,” the Browns said in a statement Wednesday. “Deshaun will be placed on season-ending injured reserve and a full recovery is expected for the start of the 2024 season.”
Per NFL Network, Watson visited multiple doctors and wanted to play through the injury. He was advised, however, that the shoulder could “fall apart” if he were to be hit in the same spot.
The news comes one day after the Browns announced running back Nick Chubb underwent a second surgery in September to repair torn ligaments in his right knee. His timeline is less certain. The Browns said the “estimated recovery time from these surgeries indicates that Nick would be able to return to play during the 2024 season.”
Coach Kevin Stefanski confirmed that fifth-round rookie quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson will start Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers instead of P.J. Walker.
“I want to give him a week where he knows he’s the starter and gets a full week of preparation,” Stefanski said.
Thompson-Robinson started the first matchup against the Ravens on Oct. 1 in place of Watson due to injury. Thompson-Robinson threw three interceptions in a 28-3 loss. He also was sacked four times and posted a quarterback rating of 28.0.
Berry said the Browns, who traded current Minnesota Vikings starter Josh Dobbs before the start of the season, are in the market for a third quarterback and would add one this week.
The Browns (6-3) host the Steelers (6-3) in another big AFC North match. Both teams have won two straight and are chasing the Ravens (7-3).
Watson completed 20 of 34 passes with one interception and rushed eight times for 37 yards against Baltimore. Trailing 31-17 in the fourth quarter, his 10-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Moore ignited a comeback capped by a 40-yard walk-off field goal from Dustin Hopkins.
Watson, 28, completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 1,115 yards with seven TDs and four interceptions in six games this season.
He said he will stay around the team to help however he can as he prepares to come back for the 2024 season.
“I’m going to make sure I keep my head above water,” Watson said, “and make sure I stay in touch with all the guys and support them as much as I possibly can.”