According to a team statement Wednesday, an MRI performed Monday revealed Watson had a displaced fracture to the glenoid in his right shoulder that he suffered during Sunday’s 33-31 win over the Baltimore Ravens. Team doctors determined that Watson needed immediate surgery to avoid further structural damage.
Watson, who will be placed on injured reserve, is expected to be back for the start of the 2024 season.
“I’m still in disbelief,” Watson said Wednesday.
Watson said he had “no idea” when the fracture happened but that he knew by the end of the first quarter there was a problem. He was able to finish the game before telling the team’s medical staff about shoulder discomfort that led to the MRI.
“I kind of recognized something was wrong, but during the midst of the game, I was just pushing through whatever I was feeling,” said Watson, who was also diagnosed with a left high ankle sprain and was in a walking boot. “And then after the game, and Monday and Tuesday, we got testing done and that’s when I found out from the doctors that it was something worse than what we thought it was.”
General manager Andrew Berry said Wednesday that Watson’s fracture was unrelated to the rotator cuff strain that forced Watson to miss four games earlier this season.
“We are very disappointed and devastated for Deshaun, especially given all that he has battled and gone through medically this season,” Berry said. “We look at this as an incredible challenge and opportunity for our organization.”
Berry said there was a “pretty clear medical recommendation” for Watson to have surgery, as the injury could have been made worse by continuing to throw passes.
Watson had returned two weeks ago against the Arizona Cardinals. On Sunday, he played arguably his best game in a Browns uniform, leading Cleveland on a winning field goal drive to defeat the Ravens.
Berry praised Watson for staying on the field against the Ravens, calling it an “incredible display of physical toughness” as the quarterback went 14-for-14 in the second half.
“It’s very tough,” Watson said. “But I’m going to make sure I keep my head above water and make sure I stay in touch with all the guys and support them as much as I possibly can and attack this rehab process after surgery and make sure that I’m doing whatever I can to be beneficial for the team while not actually being on the field with them and also prepping for the next year.”
PJ Walker is Cleveland’s backup quarterback, though the Browns also have rookie Dorian Thompson-Robinson on their roster. Walker has thrown for 618 yards with one touchdown and five interceptions over five games (two starts) this season, while Thompson-Robinson has 130 passing yards as well as three interceptions that he threw against the Ravens in Week 4 while starting in place of Watson.
Berry said the Browns would look to sign another quarterback, which would give them a third possible option.
The Browns face the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday in a key AFC North matchup. Both teams are 6-3 and a half-game behind the first-place Ravens (7-3) in the division.
Cleveland had opened as a 4-point favorite against Pittsburgh at ESPN BET prior to the announcement of Watson’s injury. The Browns were a 2-point favorite as of Wednesday afternoon, and the game’s total had dropped from 37.5 to 33.5. That would be the second-lowest total of any game in the past decade, behind only Saints-Browns at 32 on Christmas Eve last season when the temperature was 6 degrees at kickoff.
The Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl have fallen from 25-1 to 50-1.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.