After spending more than 15 months investigating Deshaun Watson, it appears the NFL is getting closer to doling out a possible punishment to the Browns quarterback and it could be a big one.
According to the Washington Post, the NFL is going to argue that Watson deserves a “significant” suspension. Watson is currently facing 24 civil lawsuits that include allegations ranging from sexual misconduct to sexual assault. Although Watson isn’t facing any criminal charges from the cases — two different grand juries in Texas have declined to press charges — he can still be punished by the league for violating the personal conduct policy.
A person in Watson’s camp told the Post that the NFL will likely argue that Watson deserves to be suspended for at least one full season. However, the Post did note that it’s difficult to predict what the length of the suspension might look like, but that the NFL will almost certainly argue that it needs to be “significant” in length.
The fact that the league will be asking for a significant suspension comes just days after Pro Football Talk reported that some in the league office want Watson off the field until his lawsuits are resolved. The league has been investigating Watson since March 2021.
The reason the NFL has to argue for a “significant” suspension is because the league isn’t in charge of handing out the punishment. Under the old collective bargaining agreement, Roger Goodell was given the power to hand out suspensions, but under the new CBA, that power belongs to a disciplinary officer, who is jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA. In Watson’s case, that officer is former U.S. district judge Judge Sue L. Robinson.
After Robinson makes a decision on the case, either side will be free to appeal it.
Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would like to subscribe.
Thanks for signing up!
Keep an eye on your inbox.
There was an error processing your subscription.
Although it’s still not clear when a decision might come, the Post is reporting that the NFL would like to have the entire process completed, including any potential appeals, by the start of training camp. With the Browns set to kick off training camp on July 27, that means Watson will likely know if he’ll be suspended at some point in the next six weeks.
The Browns quarterback met with the media this week for the first time since March, and in that interview, he continued to insist that he did nothing wrong.
“I’ve been honest and I’ve been truthful,” Watson said. “I never forced anyone, I never assaulted anyone. I’ve been saying it from the beginning, and I’m gonna continue to do that until all the facts come out.”
Watson is currently facing 24 lawsuits, but that number could soon be jumping to 26. The lawyer for the plaintiffs, Tony Buzbee, told CBS Sports earlier this week that two more lawsuits would likely be filed in the near future. The fact that more lawsuits could be filed even after Watson is hit with a potential suspension does complicate things. In that case, the NFL could add a stipulation to any potential Watson punishment that would allow the league to impose additional discipline if any more lawsuits get filed after the original discipline is handed out.