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Report: Deshaun Watson, NFL Could Reach Settlement amid Appeal of 6-Game Suspension

Adam WellsAugust 12, 2022

Nick Cammett/Getty Images

While the NFL and Cleveland Browns continue to wait for a ruling on the appeal of Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension, the possibility of a settlement between the league and the veteran quarterback isn't out of the question.

Per Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, it's "not out of the question" that Watson and the NFL could come to terms on a settlement agreement.

Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson announced on Aug. 1 a six-game suspension for Watson for violating the league's personal conduct policy.

The NFL appealed the suspension two days later, and commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey as his designee to rule on the appeal.

In her 16-page report announcing the suspension, Robinson wrote the NFL successfully "carried its burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson violated the (personal-conduct) policy."

She also noted that Watson engaged in "sexual assault; conduct that poses a genuine danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and conduct that undermines or puts at risk the integrity of the NFL."

In determining the six-game suspension without a fine, Robinson wrote she looked "at the record when compared to the relevant precedent" set by the NFL in the past.

Watson has been accused of sexual assault or misconduct by 30 different women. Twenty-five women filed civil lawsuits against him—23 of those were settled in recent weeks and one was dropped early on in the process. The Houston Texans settled with 30 women who filed or intended to file lawsuits against the team for enabling Watson's alleged behavior.

In the wake of Robinson's decision, ESPN's Jeff Darlington reported on the Aug. 2 episode of Get Up (starts at 2:00 mark) that Watson's camp would file a lawsuit against the NFL "to question the authority of [commissioner Roger] Goodell to [appeal]."

It's unclear how successful such a lawsuit would be because, under terms of the new personal conduct policy agreed upon by the league and NFL Players Association in the 2020 collective bargaining agreement, either side has the right to appeal a decision made by the independent disciplinary officer, who is jointly appointed by the league and NFLPA.

The CBA states that Goodell or a designee appointed by the commissioner will review the appeal and make a final ruling.

Prior to Robinson's ruling, ESPN's Dan Graziano reported Watson and the NFL had settlement talks with neither side feeling like they were close to an agreement.

According to Graziano, Watson's side indicated the most it would accept was a six-to-eight game ban. The NFL sought a suspension of 12 games and a "heavy fine" in the $8 million range.

Watson is scheduled to make his Browns debut on Friday night in the preseason opener. Cleveland will take on the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field at 7 p.m. ET.

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