The Cleveland Browns learned Monday how long they could be without quarterback Deshaun Watson for alleged sexual misconduct.
NFL Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson, the retired federal judge jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, handed down a six-game suspension
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate conduct during massage sessions in civil lawsuits filed by dozens of women. The encounters cited in the lawsuits took place between March 2020 and March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans. He has settled most of the lawsuits.
The personal conduct policy allows for a player to be disciplined without criminal charges. In March. Two grand juries in Texas declined to charge Watson with a crime.
The decision comes weeks after a three-day hearing in late June. Watson, who signed a $230 million contract that will carry a $1 million salary in the 2022 season, will not be fined. He will lose $345,000 in salary thanks to the convenient nature of the contracts structured by the Browns in anticipation that this suspension could occur.
Deshaun Watson was suspended six games; he was not fined, per source. pic.twitter.com/8lWWvVXjBY
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 1, 2022
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The NFL has three days to decide whether to appeal the decision. The NFLPA said on Sunday night would not appeal and that it hoped the league would not appeal the decision.
If the suspension stands, Watson would miss games against the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Pittsburgh Steelers, Atlanta Falcons, Los Angeles Chargers, and New England Patriots.
Watson would be available to return Oct. 23 for a game at the Baltimore Ravens. Jacoby Brissett will be the Browns’ starter in Watson’s absence.
Watson did not play the entire 2021 season for the Houston Texans, who elected to keep the quarterback sidelined due to the accusations and pending lawsuits filed against him.
Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall selection by Cleveland in the 2018 NFL Draft, was traded to the Carolina Panthers early last month for a conditional draft pick.
Watson can practice with the team until the week leading up to start of the regular season Sept. 11,
Six games is much lighter than the league wanted for Watson. Goodell does have final say on an appeal under the CBA. NFL has a long, difficult history on cases involving players’ behavior with women. Can’t imagine the blowback the NFL would get if the league does not increase it.
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) August 1, 2022
Prior to the suspension, the odds on Watson and the Browns for the upcoming season were as follows:
- Division: +300 (third) Baltimore is +140, Cincinnati +180, Pittsburgh +800
- Super Bowl: +2500 (tied for 12th)
- Conference: +1200 (tied for seventh)
- Kevin Stefanski +2200 coach of the year (tied for 12th)
- Watson +2200 in NFL Offensive Player of the Year (tied for 11th)
- +5000 in MVP (tied for 16th)