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What a Likely 1-Year Deshaun Watson Suspension Means for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022

Nick Cammett / Diamond Images via Getty Images

What a Likely 1-Year Deshaun Watson Suspension Means for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2022

It seems like just yesterday, a lot of Steeler Nation was begging for Cleveland Browns quarterback, Deshaun Watson to come play for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Or maybe that was just me? With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, and the Steelers having Mason Rudolph as the only quarterback on the roster for 2022 for a brief period early in the off-season, Watson seemed like a likely savior for the Steel City. Now, the 26 year old awaits the verdict of his disciplinary hearing involving some personal off-the-field incidents that are likely to cost him a year of playing time.

Check out this update from NFL Network‘s Ian Rapoport:

Some may ask, “why does this even matter?” Or, “what does this have to do with the Steelers?” Seeing as how the Steelers battle the Browns twice a year (sometimes three if you include the playoffs), this is huge news.

Watson is an elite talent. A 3x Pro Bowler, and the NFL’s 2020 passing leader, he’s a player the Browns’ organization has desperately needed to get them over their franchise hump. Although Watson has only played the Steelers once in his career, he has an 110.7 passer rating, completing over 70% of his passes. No wins are guaranteed in the NFL, especially with injuries being a pivotal aspect of the game. But if Watson can’t suit up for the Browns in 2022, you have to like the Steelers chances against the Browns even more. Especially if it’s one of the next two quarterbacks mentioned taking Watson’s place.

It appears quarterback Baker Mayfield is all but done in Cleveland. Things began to unravel for the former first rounder last season with the team and have only gotten worse. But let’s say for a second, the unthinkable happens, and Mayfield and the Browns patch things up before training camp, or even Week 1 come September. Mayfield has a 2-5 regular season record against the Steelers with a lowly 76.3 passer rating. His lowest rating coming just last season in Week 17 with a 53.1 passer rating.

If Watson ends up getting suspended, I wouldn’t be surprised if Steeler Nation was rooting for Mayfield to still be on the team to start the season just to get another crack at him.

At this point however, although we may be licking our chops at that dream scenario, it’s actually even more likely that we won’t see either Watson or Mayfield. Enter one of the Browns’ newest QB acquisitions, Jacoby Brissett.

Jacoby Brissett

Former Indianapolis Colts quarterback (now Cleveland Browns QB) Jacoby Brissett (#7) scrambles at Heinz Field during a regular season matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers. | Philip G. Pavely / USA TODAY Sports

Brissett is 0-3 against the Steelers in his career, and is only 28-32 as a starter. The former QB for the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, and Miami Dolphins has been a primary backup his entire career, but will have the opportunity the lead the Browns in 2022 if Watson and Mayfield aren’t on the sidelines. Do we like this option against the Steelers even MORE than Mayfield come the regular season? You bet we do.

Former Steelers QB Joshua Dobbs is a player to keep an eye on

Steelers Joshua Dobbs

QB Joshua Dobbs formally of the Pittsburgh Steelers scrambles while pressured by Olivier Vernon of the Cleveland Browns on January 03, 2021. | Jason Miller / Getty Images

With a likely Watson suspension and trade and/or release of Mayfield, that obviously pushes the depth chart up a bit for the Browns. Enter former Steelers QB, Joshua Dobbs. Dobbs was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 2017 NFL Draft in the fourth round (135th pick overall) and also spent time with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2019.

He’s not likely to see action against the Steelers this season, but if injuries at the QB position arise for the Browns, Dobbs’ number might be called sooner rather than later. Although he showed potential in Pittsburgh, especially being able to scramble and make plays with his feet outside of the pocket, two matchups against the Browns with Dobbs at the helm would be even sweeter for the Steelers.


Pittsburgh leads the all-time matchup 79-61-1, winning 19 of their last 25 matchups. A season without a premiere quarterback like Watson for the Browns in 2022 can only likely add to that win total for the black and gold, injuries permitting.


So what do yinz think? Will we see Watson suit up at any point in 2022? Will it even matter who’s behind center by the time Cleveland comes to town or Pittsburgh travels to Cleveland? Click to comment below!


Managing Editor of, I’m a Steelers fan first, and a human being second. I BLEED black and gold! I love everything Steeler Nation and I’ve been with this staff since February 2018. I now reside in sunny San Diego, CA, but that doesn’t stop me from attending every game at Heinz Field, and a few away games as well if possible. I graduated from Old Dominion University in 2010, and if I’m not watching a Steelers game, you can catch me at the beach, stuffing my face with Golden Oreos, or in front of anything Marvel. I report breaking news, I'm the site's designer, and I’m a big Penguins fan too! Follow me on Instagram @bwall_24! And if you need a new website for your own business or personal brand, hit me up! I’m a full-time web developer as well! Check out Go Steelers!

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