NFL Reportedly Wants 'Significant' Deshaun Watson Suspension Under Conduct Policy

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVJune 17, 2022

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 16: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass during the Cleveland Browns mandatory minicamp at FirstEnergy Stadium on June 16, 2022 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
Nick Cammett/Getty Images

The NFL is seeking a "significant" suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to Mark Maske of the Washington Post.

The league will "probably" call for a one-year suspension for violations of the league's personal conduct policy, "a person on Watson's side of the case" told Maske.

Watson has been accused of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in 26 civil lawsuits, with the last two being filed this month. The 26-year-old has denied the allegations, and two grand juries declined to press criminal charges.

The league has conducted its own investigation and will present the findings to Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. district judge appointed by the league and players association as the NFL's disciplinary officer.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in May that the league was "nearing the end of the investigation," although there have been new allegations since.

All 26 women have accused Watson of sexual assault or misconduct during massage therapy sessions. An investigation by the New York Times' Jenny Vrentas found that Watson met with at least 66 women for massage appointments over the course of 17 months from 2019 to 2021. Vrentas also reported the Houston Texans enabled Watson by providing him with a hotel membership and nondisclosure agreements to use for the appointments.

Watson did not play last season with the Texans, although he was not suspended and remained on the team's active roster, receiving his full salary.

Cleveland acquired the three-time Pro Bowler in a March trade, giving Watson a new five-year, $230 million contract that is fully guaranteed. The contract is also structured with only $1.035 million in base salary for 2022, per Spotrac, with a base salary of $46 million in each of the next four years.

The structure would help reduce the money lost to a possible suspension since Watson would only forfeit his base salary from 2022 on a per-game basis.

The Browns have other experienced quarterbacks on the roster in Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett in the event Watson is suspended.