Rusty Hardin, the attorney for Deshaun Watson, says he expects the NFL to decide on whether to discipline the Cleveland Browns quarterback at some point in June or July.
"We should know what their position is initially sometime in June, and then everybody will figure out if there’s going to be a hearing about it or can people work things out, or whatever," Hardin told cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot on Friday. "The only thing that’s certain is that they want to try to get everything done this summer—and earlier than later in the summer. Past that, we don’t really have any firm dates or possibilities."
NFL investigators met with Watson from Monday to Wednesday as the league continues to look into the allegations from 22 women accusing Watson of sexual assault or misconduct.
All of the women say Watson hired them to perform massages before acting inappropriately.
No criminal charges have been filed against Watson, but the league can still suspend him under its personal conduct policy. The three-time Pro Bowler has denied the allegations, though he did admit under oath that he apologized to one of the women, Ashley Solis, after she cried following their massage appointment.
"Yes, because she was teary-eyed," Watson said when asked whether he knew why he apologized to the woman, per Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today. "And I was trying to figure out what was going on. So, I assumed that she was uncomfortable in whatever reason. And we talked about working in the future. And so, I said, 'We can work in the future. Just let me know.' And then I sent my apologies as whatever reason she was teary-eyed for."
Solis, the first woman who accused Watson of sexual misconduct, did not reply to Watson's apology.
More Watson accusers are set to appear Tuesday night on Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, which will feature an interview segment with the women and journalist Soledad O'Brien.
"My approach all along was that we were not going to win the battle of public opinion," Hardin said. "And my goal has always been to have these cases examined by law enforcement and I strongly believed that trained investigators would ultimately conclude that there was nothing to them from a criminal standpoint and that’s where my focus has always been."
The Browns traded 2022, 2023 and 2024 first-round picks, a 2023 third-round pick and fourth-round selections in 2022 and 2024 to the Houston Texans for Watson in March. As part of the deal, the Browns gave Watson a $230 million fully guaranteed contract. Interestingly, the deal is structured to give him a base salary of just $1 million in 2022, minimizing the financial impact of any type of suspension.