Report: Deshaun Watson, NFLPA to Sue NFL If Suspended 1 Year for Alleged Misconduct

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJuly 18, 2022

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson takes part in drills at the NFL football team's practice facility Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)
AP Photo/Ron Schwane

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson and the NFL Players Association have already prepared their counter if Watson receives a one-year suspension following an investigation into allegations of sexual assault and misconduct.

Yahoo Sports' Charles Robinson reported Watson and the players union will file a lawsuit in federal court if the NFL or arbitrator Sue Robinson suspends him for a year.

ESPN's Dan Graziano reported on the July 6 episode of Keyshawn, JWill & Max the NFL had proposed an indefinite suspension for Watson, who could apply for reinstatement after 12 games.

Watson was "still not interested in signing up for that indefinite suspension," per Graziano.

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up to report Watson's representatives were arguing in front of Robinson the three-time Pro Bowler should avoid a suspension. In addition, any settlement that resulted in a 12-game ban "would not be a serious offer."

Under the terms of the most recent collective bargaining agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can't issue a suspension on his own. Goodell can modify the length of any ban if the disciplinary officer—Robinson in this case—deems a player violated the NFL's personal conduct policy.

That still gives the commissioner a lot of latitude in terms of doling out punishment.

According to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com, the "growing sentiment" around the league is that Watson will be eligible for the Browns sometime in the middle of the 2022 NFL season.

Watson has yet to face any formal consequences from the NFL after numerous women came forward with allegations of misconduct. He didn't play a single snap in 2021 while in effect on paid suspension. The Houston Texans made him a healthy scratch for each of their games.

In March, a second Texas grand jury declined to indict the 26-year-old on criminal charges stemming from the allegations. Watson also settled 20 of the 24 outstanding civil lawsuits filed against him.

If Watson is handed a yearlong suspension and files an appeal, it wouldn't be the first time an NFL star attempted to fight the outcome at the highest judicial levels. Tom Brady was unsuccessful in 2016 when he appealed his four-game suspension stemming from the Deflategate controversy.