"I feel really good," Watson said after Cleveland's second minicamp practice, which featured him completing several impressive passes against the team's defense. "The biggest thing is the confidence level, knowing who I am, trusting what I do, trusting the work that I put in these past couple years to get back to this position I'm in. ... So, I'm enjoying myself. I'm having fun."
Watson was suspended 11 games last year for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the league, against massage therapists. Watson has settled 23 of the civil cases filed against him but still faces two lawsuits that remain active.
In six games after the suspension, Watson ranked just 26th in the league in QBR (38.3), as the Browns went 3-3 and finished with a record of 7-10. Watson also sat out the entire 2021 season after requesting a trade from the Houston Texans.
"If you stopped doing something for so long, you just naturally lose that confidence because you haven't been playing at that level," Watson said. "So, you forget, your body and your muscle memory, forget how fast and how to do things. ... Whenever I got back on the field last year, I was building that confidence up. ... Having this offseason and being full throttle, [the confidence has] definitely have caught back up with me."
The Browns traded for Watson last March. They sent Houston three first-round draft picks in the trade, then signed Watson to a five-year deal worth $230 million guaranteed, which remains the most in NFL history.
Watson participated in Cleveland's offseason program last year, including its minicamp. But midway through training camp, he began splitting snaps with backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who started the first 11 games while Watson served the suspension. Watson didn't resume practicing with the Browns again until Nov. 14.
"I'm pretty far ahead of where I was last year," Watson said. "I'm getting comfortable with the position I'm in, getting comfortable being here in Cleveland."