Schefter: NFL Wants 'Lengthy' Deshaun Watson Suspension After Misconduct Allegations

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJune 22, 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 reportedly looking to hand down a "lengthy" suspension to Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who has been accused of sexual assault or sexual misconduct in 24 civil lawsuits.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported on the matter during an appearance on ESPN 97.5 Houston's The Bench:

ESPN 97.5 Houston @espn975

ICYMI... How long of a suspension is the <a href="https://twitter.com/NFL?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@NFL</a> looking at for <a href="https://twitter.com/Browns?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Browns</a> QB <a href="https://twitter.com/deshaunwatson?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@deshaunwatson</a>? ESPN's <a href="https://twitter.com/AdamSchefter?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@AdamSchefter</a> joined the program to speak on that and more on a Wednesday edition of The Bench with <a href="https://twitter.com/johngranato?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@johngranato</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/LanceZierlein?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@LanceZierlein</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFLTwitter?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFLTwitter</a> <a href="https://t.co/n4rnNVqq70">pic.twitter.com/n4rnNVqq70</a>

"My understanding is the league does want a lengthy suspension for Deshaun Watson," Schefter said. "Lengthy."

He also noted that the NFLPA intends to fight any suspension the NFL gives to Watson.

Watson has settled 20 of the civil lawsuits against him. He denies any wrongdoing, per Juan A. Lozano and Rob Maaddi of the Associated Press.

"I never assaulted anyone," Watson said on June 14. "I never harassed anyone or I never disrespected anyone. I never forced anyone to do anything."

Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal charges in March after 10 women filed criminal complaints with police.

The NFL can still suspend Watson under its personal conduct policy. The league notably used the policy to suspend free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown (eight games), Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (six games) and Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (initially six games, reduced to four).

The league will present the findings of its investigation to NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson and give a recommendation for punishment, though the former district court judge, who was jointly appointed to the position by the NFL and NFLPA, will make the final decision.

A New York Times report from Jenny Vrentas indicated that Watson met with at least 66 women over a period of 17 months for massage appointments. In addition, his former team, the Houston Texans, provided him with a hotel membership where he held appointments and non-disclosure agreements (NDA) to be used for the women who provided massage services.

In addition, Houston detective Kamesha Baker said in a pretrial deposition that she believed Watson "committed criminal indecent assault, sexual assault and prostitution in cases where money was exchanged and there was consensual sex," per Brent Schrotenboer of USA Today.

The Browns traded for Watson, a three-time Pro Bowler, in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract.