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Report: 'Growing Sentiment' That Deshaun Watson 'Will Play at Some Point' in 2022

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVJuly 17, 2022

Nick Cammett/Getty Images

There is reportedly some expectation that Deshaun Watson will take the field for the Cleveland Browns during the upcoming season even as a potential suspension looms.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported "there’s growing sentiment within league circles that Watson will play at some point this season despite the NFL arguing for an indefinite suspension of at least the full season with a chance to apply for reinstatement afterwards."

She noted the NFL Players Association is pushing for Watson to avoid a suspension of any length and has pointed to "the fact that several NFL owners haven't been suspended for their direct or indirect involvement in sexual misconduct."

While multiple grand juries ruled in March that Watson would not be indicted on criminal charges, the NFL could still punish him for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

Cabot explained this case is the first under the revised collective bargaining agreement that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not determine the initial discipline. Instead, a jointly appointed disciplinary officer has the power, while the league and Players Association will have the right to appeal.

Sue L. Robinson is the jointly appointed disciplinary officer, and Goodell cannot change it if she does not issue a punishment.

This comes after attorney Tony Buzbee announced the Houston Texans reached settlements with 30 women who alleged Watson's former team enabled his behavior in massage sessions.

The team released a statement, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a>: <a href="https://t.co/APBsClwhwZ">https://t.co/APBsClwhwZ</a> <a href="https://t.co/y9ny9egL7N">pic.twitter.com/y9ny9egL7N</a>

Jenny Vrentas of the New York Times reported in June that the team provided venues and nondisclosure agreements for Watson.

Buzbee also announced in June that the quarterback settled 20 of 24 lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct when he played for Houston.

While Houston kept the Clemson product on the 53-man roster throughout the 2021 campaign, he was inactive for all 17 games and didn't appear in a single contest. The Texans then traded him to the Browns this offseason, and the AFC North team responded by giving him a fully-guaranteed, $230 million contract extension over five years.

The deal features a base salary of $1.035 million for 2022.

Cabot noted Cleveland is "hoping for a decision sooner than later" when it comes to Watson and will look to sign a backup quarterback for Jacoby Brissett should he be suspended for a significant amount of time.

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