Jacoby Brissett

Deshaun Watson Fallout: Treatment, Haslam, Garoppolo, Brissett

Deshaun Watson will not make his Browns debut until December, thanks to the 11-game suspension he received Thursday. While the quarterback expressed some degree of remorse in an interview before the ban came down, his comments Thursday took a different tone.

After Watson continued to insist he did nothing wrong, ESPN.com’s Dianna Russini noted (via Twitter) those close to the recently traded passer indicated his acceptance of a $5MM fine and mandatory counseling “has nothing to do with an admission of guilt” and is not an apology to the dozens of women who accused him of sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct. This stance and Watson’s comments during his Thursday press conference contrast from his official post-suspension statement and surely did not please those on the NFL’s side of this drama.

Watson, 26, cannot return to the Browns’ facility until October and cannot resume practicing until November. These dates, along with the Dec. 4 Texans game, are contingent upon Watson’s counseling. Compliance with a third-party behavioral expert is mandatory for Watson’s reinstatement, per ESPN.com’s Adam Schefter (on Twitter). Additional punishment would come Watson’s way if he fails to meet these standards.

Critically, however, the settlement covers the four cases that Judge Sue L. Robinson ruled upon as well as any “substantially similar” violations that took place before the date of settlement (August 18). So even if more therapists make allegations against Watson, the QB’s status with the NFL would be unaffected, as long as the allegations stem from incidents that occurred prior to August 18 and are similar in nature to those that have already come to light (meaning, for instance, that they don’t include claims of force) (Twitter links via Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network).

Prior to the settlement, Watson had moved closer to the NFL’s 12-game offer and roughly an $8MM fine by being willing to accept an eight-game ban and a fine in the $5MM range. Watson, who signed a $230MM fully guaranteed deal after the blockbuster March trade, was open to paying what it took to return to the field sooner, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler tweets.

Watson would likely have been willing to pay more in fines if it meant the eight-game suspension would be the punishment, Fowler adds. The NFL had sought a full-season penalty for months but likely backed off to prevent this matter from dragging into a lengthy court battle. Despite the backlash that has come out since this revised suspension emerged, a league source viewed Thursday’s punishment as “significant, definitive and final,” per the Washington Post’s Mark Maske (on Twitter).

The Browns have withstood the constant criticism of their decision not only to acquire Watson but to authorize a groundbreaking extension — less than 18 months after Watson signed a lucrative Texans contract. The former No. 12 overall pick ended up playing just 16 games on that $39MM-per-year deal. GM Andrew Berry, whom owner Jimmy Haslam said pitched the idea of the fully guaranteed deal, said the Browns would make the trade again. Citing the second chance the team gave Kareem Hunt after his 2018 assault of a woman was captured on video, via Pelissero (on Twitter), Haslam called this a similar opportunity for Watson.

I think in this country, and hopefully in the world, people deserve second chances. I really think that,” Haslam said. “… Is he never supposed to play again? Is he never supposed to be a part of society? Does he get no chance to rehabilitate himself? That is what we are going to do.”

Although Watson will not play in Cleveland’s final two preseason games, he took snaps with the Browns’ second-string offense in a Thursday joint practice with the Eagles. His upcoming absence puts Jacoby Brissett in place to take over for the fill-in role he was signed to play. Brissett should be expected to remain the Browns’ starter going into the regular season. The Browns are not believed to be interested in Jimmy Garoppolo, per TheLandOnDemand.com’s Tony Grossi. Kevin Stefanski said he has been “very impressed” with Brissett, via ESPN.com’s Jake Trotter. The Browns have yet to name Brissett their Week 1 starter, however.

NFL, NFLPA Reach Settlement; Browns QB Deshaun Watson Banned 11 Games

The NFL and NFLPA moved to decide the Deshaun Watson matter via settlement. After off-and-on talks for months, the league and the union came to an agreement Thursday. Watson will be suspended 11 games and fined $5MM, Aaron Wilson of ProFootballNetwork.com reports (on Twitter).

Counseling will also be mandatory for the Browns quarterback, per the settlement. Watson said last week he had begun counseling. This agreement, a five-game bump from the original suspension announced by disciplinary officer Sue Robinson, will prevent this saga from spilling into court — long rumored to be the NFLPA’s course of action if a full-season ban came down.

Although Watson will not be permitted to play in games until December, he can return to the Browns’ facility Oct. 10, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The recently traded quarterback can resume practicing Nov. 14.

Settlement talks did not progress too far ahead of Robinson’s initial suspension, but with appeal appointee Peter Harvey expected to bring stronger punishment, the NFLPA became more amenable to negotiating with the league. Prior to Robinson’s ruling, the league was willing to drop its push for a full-season ban. The NFL was open to a 12-game penalty and a fine of at least $8MM. While this suspension and the fine are not quite what the league wanted initially, the NFL’s desire to see Watson sidelined for much of this season will come to fruition.

While Watson’s absence will obviously hinder the Browns’ hopes at a successful 2022 season, this settlement does open the door to his debut being in Houston. The Browns, who have a bye in Week 9, will travel to face the Texans in Week 13. Watson, 26, was with the Texans for five seasons — the last of which as a non-playing member on the 53-man roster.

It remains to be seen if Cleveland will stick with Jacoby Brissett for the duration of Watson’s suspension, as Jimmy Garoppolo connections have increased in recent days. Andrew Berry would not yet confirm Brissett would start Week 1, with Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed noting the third-year GM only expressed confidence in the Watson fill-in (Twitter link).

Unless a Garoppolo trade happens soon, or in the unlikely event Sam Darnold retains his starting Panthers job, Week 1 will feature a Brissett-Baker Mayfield matchup. The Browns will not have Watson for games against the Jets, Falcons, Chargers, Patriots, Dolphins, Bills, Buccaneers and initial games against each of their three AFC North rivals.

One of the 24 women who filed civil lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions has not settled her case. Absent a settlement, that matter will be tabled to 2023. Unless more lawsuits come down, this saga is on the homestretch regarding punishment. Two grand juries did not bring charges against Watson, but Robinson ruled he violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing nonviolent sexual assault. Roger Goodell said last week the league found the Browns QB committed multiple violations of the policy, leading to the appeal.

With the CBA giving Goodell power to appeal and ultimately, via Harvey, follow through with a 17-game ban, the league would have been favored to prevail in a court case. It did so against Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott, who served their suspensions — after delays — despite court fights. The Watson drama, due to the volume of accusers and the nature of the alleged misconduct, became one of the highest-profile off-field matters in NFL history. Thus, it is unsurprising to see the league go forward with a settlement that prevents a weeks- or months-long court battle.

In the leadup to this settlement, Watson appeared to show more remorse for the alleged off-field misconduct. A Goodell statement Thursday indicated Watson “committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL.” The sixth-year QB has never admitted wrongdoing, however, and continued to lean in that direction Thursday, saying (via CBS Sports’ Aditi Kinkhabwala, on Twitter) “I have always stood on my innocence” and that he “never assaulted or disrespected anyone.”

I’m looking forward to just moving forward with my career and being able to get back on the field as soon as possible,” Watson said. “That’s the plan, to continue to grow as a person, an individual, and keep moving forward.”

Watson, who missed much of his rookie season due to an ACL tear, will end up missing 28 games in connection with these allegations. The Texans held off on trade talks for much of last year, after Watson had requested to be dealt just before his off-field saga began, and the three-time Pro Bowler’s market cooled once the controversy erupted. Houston deactivated its former starter for all 17 games last season. The Dolphins came closest to trading for Watson in 2021; at that point, the QB was only believed to have waived his no-trade clause to go to Miami. But the now-Mike McDaniel-led Dolphins moved forward with Tua Tagovailoa this year, opening the door to one of the most unusual trade sweepstakes in NFL history.

The Browns, Falcons, Saints and Panthers met with the embattled quarterback this year, and while Carolina was in on Watson the longest, Atlanta was believed to be the passer’s preference. That is, until the Browns came down with their historic five-year, $230MM fully guaranteed contract offer. The Texans traded Watson to the Browns for a package headlined by three first-round picks. Watson’s former employer is now in position to see the quarterback whose off-field actions led to the franchise being sued — producing 30 settlements with Watson accusers — come December 4.

Thursday’s settlement will prevent Watson’s contract from tolling. The NFL also increased the monetary penalty for a quarterback attached to a $1MM 2022 salary — a point of contention among the league and its 31 other teams. Watson will lose the $5MM and a $632K of his 2022 base salary. His 2023-26 salaries — which are in line to produce league-record cap numbers ($54.99MM) — will be unaffected.

Browns To Sign Backup QB If Deshaun Watson Gets Lengthy Suspension

As the news involving Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to develop around the several allegations of sexual misconduct placed upon him, disciplinary officer Sue Robinson is nearing her ruling on whether or not Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy. The ruling should determine the length of time, if any, that Watson will be suspended from playing in the NFL. If it’s determined that Watson will be out for an extended period of time, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com tells us that the Browns “will sign a quarterback to back up interim starter Jacoby Brissett.” 

Brissett signed a one-year deal to join the Browns back in March. The NC State product started five games last year in Miami, when starter Tua Tagovailoa was injured, but gained most of his starting experience filling in for Andrew Luck during his four seasons with the Colts.

Indianapolis acquired Brissett in 2017 in a straight-up trade with New England for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett after news that offseason shoulder surgery would force their starting quarterback, Luck, to miss some time in the regular season. Brissett started every game but one that season for the Colts. After backing up a healthy Luck the following season, Brissett was forced back into the starting role when Luck surprisingly announced his retirement two weeks before the 2019 NFL season. Again, Brissett started all but one game that year.

Brissett’s extensive starting experience made him a resourceful addition to the Browns’ roster, considering the likelihood that Watson will miss time, and he became the obvious choice to start as soon as news arose of friction between Baker Mayfield and Cleveland. As a starter, Brissett has amassed a 14-23 record over his six years in the league. He has a career completion percentage of 60.2%, passing for 7,742 yards, 36 touchdowns, and 17 interceptions in 60 total games.

Currently the only other quarterback on the roster in Cleveland is former Steelers’ reserve Joshua Dobbs. Since getting drafted in 2017, Dobbs has thrown 17 passes spread over six regular season appearances. If Watson is unavailable, the Browns will want someone with a bit more experience backing up their backup, Brissett. The free agent market offers up slim pickings for the desperate, but still contains some notable backup names.

The most experienced available quarterback in free agency is Cam Newton. The 33-year-old is coming off a return season in Carolina and has started a football game in every year of his career since getting drafted in 2011. Mike Glennon is another passer with starting experience available on the market. The journeyman has 31 starts to his name, starting games for four of the six teams that have rostered him. Most recently, Glennon started four games last year for the Giants.

Behind those two, free agency also offers career backup names like A.J. McCarron and Garrett Gilbert. McCarron recently announced his eagerness to return to the NFL after recovering from a torn ACL and has plenty of experience in the AFC North from his extended time in Cincinnati. Gilbert has less time in the NFL as a backup but has shown an adaptability by spending each of his four seasons in the NFL with four different teams. Luckily for Cleveland, one of those teams is the Browns. Gilbert spent the 2019 season backing up Mayfield under then-head coach Freddie Kitchens.

While it doesn’t offer much in terms of quantity, there are some real options for Cleveland to pursue on the free agent market. They could also attempt to trade for a backup the way Indianapolis did years ago to obtain Brissett, but that’s another article entirely. Regardless, Cleveland will have plenty of time to set their plans straight as the ruling from Robinson may not be announced for weeks.

Browns Unlikely To Pursue Jimmy Garoppolo?

Deshaun Watson‘s initial suspension length is unlikely to surface until at least next week, and even that announcement might not happen until the Browns break for training camp. But the likely appeal process should be expected to drag into August, complicating matters for the team that surrendered three first-round picks and change for the former Texans Pro Bowler.

The prospect of Jimmy Garoppolo serving as an emergency option for Cleveland, in the event the NFL does suspend Watson for a full season or close to it, has come up in recent weeks. But the team is comfortable with Jacoby Brissett guiding the offense in Watson’s absence, per ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler, who said during an appearance on KNBR’s Tolbert & Copes (h/t 49erswebzone.com) he is not sure the Browns will emerge in the Garoppolo mix.

[RELATED: How Will 49ers’ Garoppolo Saga End?]

Not long after acquiring Watson, the Browns traded Case Keenum — their backup of two years — and signed Brissett to a one-year, $4.65MM deal. Cleveland also gave up one of the top trade packages in NFL history for Watson. In addition to the first-rounders being dealt, the Browns gave the Texans a third-rounder (in 2023) and two fourths (in 2022 and ’24). The team’s draft capital may be an issue regarding a Garoppolo pursuit, Fowler adds. Baker Mayfield went for only a 2024 fifth-rounder, and the 49ers are in a somewhat similar salary spot with Garoppolo — attached to a $24.2MM base salary that becomes guaranteed in Week 1 — so draft capital being a hang-up is interesting here.

Brissett, 29, has 37 career starts under his belt; five of those came with the Dolphins last season. The former third-round pick averaged just 5.7 yards per attempt in Miami, though he fared better during the second of his years as the Colts’ primary starter. Garoppolo would certainly be a more inspiring option than Brissett, but the Browns may stand down.

Garoppolo, 30, has resumed throwing. The 49ers could stash him on the active/PUP list to start camp, if they want to both give the veteran QB more recovery time and/or sideline him as they negotiate a trade, but Kyle Shanahan said in June the 49ers would likely have their trade chip at practice instead of stashed on the PUP list. The 49ers excused Garoppolo from minicamp, but he was not ready to throw at that point.

The Seahawks loom as a Garoppolo option but are more likely to wait out a potential release. The Texans have been loosely linked to Garoppolo this offseason, with Nick Caserio having been in New England throughout the ex-Tom Brady backup’s stay there. But Fowler adds it would be a bit of a surprise if Garoppolo ended up in Houston, given the team’s interest in developing Davis Mills.

After the Mayfield trade, Cleveland gained more than $8MM in cap space. The team’s $48.5MM is $25MM north of any other team’s cap room, providing options in the event Watson is shut down for the season. (The 49ers’ $4.9MM in space ranks 30th on that list.) Watson being shelved for all of 2022 would cause his five-year contract to toll, making it a 2023-27 pact. The Browns structured the $230MM guaranteed deal to minimize Watson’s penalties in a suspension — one the team did not expect to be a full-season ban when it made the trade. Watson’s $1MM base salary would move to 2023, pushing the run of $50MM-plus cap figures to 2024 and beyond.

Browns Didn’t Foresee Potential Year-Long Deshaun Watson Suspension

The Browns, like everyone else in the football world, continue to await the outcome of the Deshaun Watson hearing, which recently concluded. They are widely expected to be without their Pro Bowl acquisition for a significant stretch of the 2022 season, something the team prepared for with the way his contract is arranged. 

However, it appears they didn’t foresee a year-long suspension – which the NFL has quite publicly been seeking – as a potential outcome. Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com writes that Cleveland signed Jacoby Brissett working under the assumption that Watson would be suspended for “the first quarter of the season or so.”

Relying on the 29-year-old over the course of an entire campaign, she continues, was a scenario the team “didn’t envision” when they signed him one day after trading for Watson. Brissett has started 37 of his 60 career games, including two different years in Indianapolis as the No. 1 and a handful of contests last season in Miami. His numbers haven’t stood out at any juncture, but he could be reasonably expected to keep the team’s offense afloat for the short- to intermediate-term should Watson receive a suspension which still allows him to see the field in 2022.

If Brissett does end up as the full-time starter for this season, though, he will be insulated by a deep roster around him. The Browns boast arguably the league’s top running back tandem, a receiving corps now led by Amari Cooper, and a strong defense. Still, his track record would lead to understandable questions about the team’s ability to make the postseason in a highly-talented AFC – something Cleveland’s front office didn’t have in mind when making the ‘win-now’ move of trading for Watson.

With the Baker Mayfield situation still unresolved, and plenty of cap space to add another signal-caller such as Jimmy Garoppolo, the Browns do, of course, have alternatives to Brissett for 17 games. Turning to him for that long would, apparently though, be a reaction to unforeseen circumstances on the team’s part.

Browns Not Expected To Target Sam Darnold In Baker Mayfield Trade

With the Browns and Panthers haggling over how Baker Mayfield‘s 2022 salary will be paid, Cleveland taking back one of Carolina’s quarterbacks in a deal would not seem in step with these negotiations. But Deshaun Watson‘s status may point to the Browns looking around at emergency QB options, considering Mayfield is out of the picture for such a role.

Sam Darnold is not expected to be on such a list, and as of now, the Browns are not preparing to chase a QB upgrade as part of a Watson contingency plan. A Mayfield-for-Darnold swap is not believed to be on the Browns’ radar, according to cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, who adds the AFC North team is confident in offseason addition Jacoby Brissett.

Carolina and Cleveland have picked up talks on Mayfield recently, with the NFC South squad displaying some urgency here. If Mayfield finally does end up being traded, the acquiring team would be wise to do it soon for the purposes of the relocating quarterback immersing himself in his new team’s playbook ahead of training camp.

Matt Rhule said a trade weeks in advance of camp is not essential to a QB learning Ben McAdoo‘s playbook, but the more time Mayfield would have with Carolina’s system, the better off he would be. Illustrating money’s impact in these talks, the Panthers would have hoped to acquire Mayfield before or during minicamp for acclimation purposes, Joe Person of The Athletic notes (subscription required).

Like Mayfield, Darnold is tied to a fifth-year option salary of $18.9MM. As 2018 draftees, Mayfield and Darnold are part of the first class to have their fifth-year options fully guaranteed. While trade-value purposes should be considered here, Rhule is believed to be warming to another Darnold season. Given the efforts the Panthers have made to acquire a better QB over the past two years, that would be quite the development. Mayfield would seemingly be a better option, his inconsistency notwithstanding, but his former draft classmate has been prepping in McAdoo’s system for five months.

The Browns were linked to Darnold ahead of the 2018 draft; Mayfield emerged late in the process. The two passers’ work to date suggests then-GM John Dorsey made the right decision, but Darnold — who is two years younger, at 25 — has been stationed behind below-average offensive lines throughout his career. Mayfield enjoyed a top-tier line during the second half of his Cleveland run. Darnold has not shown what Mayfield has during the latter’s highpoints, but with a new-look Panther O-line and a quality set of skill-position players, this might be the USC product’s best chance of putting together a decent season.

Signed to a one-year, $4.65MM deal this offseason, Brissett replaced Case Keenum as the Browns’ backup. The frequent fill-in starter stands to be a pivotal figure in the Browns’ season. With a lengthy Watson suspension expected, the former Patriots, Colts and Dolphins QB will be on track to make several starts for a Browns team that has seen its preferred starter encounter additional turmoil since the divisive blockbuster trade occurred.

Deshaun Watson Could Be Suspended For Only Four Games; “No Market” For Baker Mayfield

We recently heard that new Browns QB Deshaun Watson would not end up on the Commissioner’s Exempt list since he will not be criminally charged in connection with the sexual assault allegations for which he is still facing 22 civil suits. And, as Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com writes, the absence of criminal charges may also help Watson avoid a lengthy suspension.

Per Cabot, league investigators will view the grand jury non-indictments as “mitigating factors” when it comes to doling out punishment to the embattled passer. A suspension may not be put in place until the civil matter is resolved — and Cleveland will not pressure Watson to settle the suits — but when the NFL’s investigation concludes and a decision is made, Cabot hears that Watson could be hit with a six-game ban that gets reduced to four games.

That would obviously count as a huge victory for the Browns, who gave up a bounty of draft capital and a market-altering contract to acquire Watson in a move that many pundits have classified as desperate. Winning, though, has a way of rewriting history, and if Watson escapes all of his legal troubles with only a four-game suspension (at least as far as on-field ramifications are concerned), Cleveland will have a very good chance of winning in 2022 and beyond.

Of course, the Browns are still rostering Baker Mayfield, an awkward reality that would become even more awkward if they are forced to retain him throughout the 2022 season. GM Andrew Berry recently said he would be willing to do so, but that surely is just a bit of posturing. Berry obviously wants to trade the former No. 1 overall pick, and he is content to wait until a starting quarterback on another club suffers an injury and creates a QB need for that club. According to Cabot, Berry may need to do just that, because there is “no market” for Mayfield at this point.

Still, Cabot says Berry does not want to give Mayfield away or include one of his own draft picks in a trade to entice another team to assume Mayfield’s contract. She writes that the plan remains to have newly-signed QB Jacoby Brissett, and not Mayfield, operate as the starting signal-caller in the event of a Watson suspension. The one-year deal that Brissett signed with the Browns last month has a base value of $4.65MM, almost all of which ($4.5MM) is guaranteed, as Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network tweets. Brissett will have a chance to earn more via incentives, including, perhaps, play-time incentives that could be realized if/when Brissett stands in for Watson.

One more item on Mayfield: his disenchantment with the Browns was intensified in the wake of a report that surfaced prior to the Watson trade indicating that the team was looking for “an adult” at the quarterback position (thus implying that Mayfield is not, in fact, an adult). Per team owner Jimmy Haslam, that comment did not come from the Cleveland front office (Twitter link via Jeff Schudel of the News-Herald).

Browns To Sign QB Jacoby Brissett

Minutes after agreeing to trade Case Keenum to the Bills, the Browns tabbed his replacement. Jacoby Brissett is expected to sign with Cleveland, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. The former third-round pick agreed to a one-year deal.

Brissett backed up Tua Tagovailoa last season in Miami, but the Dolphins starter’s early-season injury opened the door for more starting opportunities for the North Carolina State alum. Given new Browns starter Deshaun Watson‘s off-field trouble, Brissett will be one of the league’s most important backups. He will almost certainly have an extended run as a starter in Cleveland, should Watson’s expected suspension hit in 2022.

[RELATED: Browns Acquire Watson From Texans]

Extended QB1 run on short notice will not be new to Brissett; such developments have essentially defined his career. The former Patriots draft pick became the Colts’ starter not long after a late-summer 2017 trade, with Andrew Luck‘s shoulder injury lingering throughout the 2017 season. Brissett started 15 games for Indianapolis that year. After Luck’s surprise late-summer 2019 retirement, Brissett again received the keys in Indy. While Brissett did not make any starts in 2020, Tagovailoa’s September injury led to a five-start season for his backup.

Leading a much better Colts team in 2019, Brissett upped his passer rating to a career-best 88.0 on 6.6 yards per attempt. While Brissett once again proved he is one of the NFL’s best backups, his Miami yards-per-attempt figure settled at just 5.7, as Jaylen Waddle racked up PPR points. Brissett, 29, did complete a career-high 62.7% of his passes with the Dolphins.

Cleveland constructed Watson’s contract around the likelihood of a 2022 suspension. With six games appearing to be the floor for a Watson ban, that will place a spotlight on Brissett, whose only start for a playoff-bound team came with the 2016 Patriots. The Browns’ polarizing trade will force them to count on Brissett for an extended stretch, perhaps to start the 2022 campaign.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Won’t Start Tonight

Tua Tagovailoa will likely miss his second-straight game. NFL Network’s Cameron Wolfe reports (via Twitter) that backup Jacoby Brissett will be starting for the Dolphins when they take on the Ravens tonight.

Tagovailoa has been dealing with a small fracture in the middle finger of his throwing hand that forced him to miss last Sunday’s game against the Texans. Per Wolfe (on Twitter), the quarterback is still dealing with a grip issue and corresponding discomfort. Fortunately, it sounds like the QB is getting better, and the team is hopeful he’ll play next weekend against the Jets. Just like last week, Tagovailoa will still be active for tonight’s game. If Brissett is forced to exit the game, Tagovailoa will be forced into the lineup, injury and all.

The Alabama product has posted a disappointing 86.7 quarterback rating in his 15 professional games, and his persistent injury problems are preventing him from generating any positive momentum. Before the finger ailment, he previously missed three full games this year (and most of a fourth) due to a rib injury. In the five games he’s started, Tagovailoa has completed 65.6 percent of his passes for 1,040 yards, seven touchdowns, and five interceptions. He’s added another 62 yards and two scores on 15 touches.

Brissett has already started four of his seven games this season. The veteran has completed 64.4 percent of his passes for 1,127 yards, five touchdowns, and four interceptions. Per Wolfe, Brissett got the majority of the starting reps at practice this week, and the team was preparing for tonight’s contest as if the 28-year-old would get the start.

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa Dealing With Broken Finger

Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa is dealing with a small fracture in the middle finger of his throwing hand, and he will not start Miami’s game against the Texans today (Twitter link via Adam Schefter of ESPN.com). Jacoby Brissett will get the nod in Tagovailoa’s place.

Schefter adds in a separate tweet that the injury is not expected to keep Tagovailoa on the sidelines for very long, but because the Dolphins have a quick turnaround with a Thursday night game against the Ravens four days from now, he could end up missing two contests. Of course, he has already missed three full games this year (and most of a fourth) due to a rib injury sustained in Miami’s Week 2 loss to the Bills.

Per Cameron Wolfe of ESPN.com, Tagovailoa did throw in practice this week, but he had swelling and discomfort in his finger that was still giving him trouble in pregame warmups today (Twitter link). The southpaw passer will dress for the Houston game and is technically active, but that is because the Dolphins have only him and Brissett on the active roster (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). The Eagles claimed former third-stringer Reid Sinnett off waivers at the end of October, and the ‘Fins did not promote practice squad QB Jake Dolegala.

This is yet another setback in Tagovailoa’s young career. The Alabama product has posted a disappointing 86.7 quarterback rating in his 15 professional games, and his persistent injury problems are preventing him from generating any positive momentum. Factors outside of his control — like the success of Chargers QB Justin Herbert, who was selected one pick after Tagovailoa in the 2020 draft, and the constant Deshaun Watson trade rumors — have underscored that general lack of success.

Head coach Brian Flores has publicly endorsed Tagovailoa on several occasions this year, and though the 1-7 Dolphins have taken a major step backward this year after a promising 2020 campaign, a strong second half of the season from their second-year signal-caller would brighten their 2022 outlook. Now, the chances of that happening seem even slimmer.