Report: Deshaun Watson Settlement Negotiations 'Active' Between NFL, NFLPA

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVAugust 17, 2022

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The NFL and NFL Players Association are reportedly continuing to hold talks regarding a settlement to the appeal of Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson's suspension.

According to Pro Football Network's Aaron Wilson, it is unclear if the two sides will be able to reach an agreement before the league's appeal against the length of Watson's suspension is heard by Peter C. Harvey.

Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson suspended Watson for six games on August 1 after an NFL investigation into the 25 civil lawsuits filed by women accusing him of sexual assault or sexual misconduct during massage sessions.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decided to appeal the decision in search of a more significant punishment, and he appointed Harvey to hear the appeal.

Watson issued a blanket denial of the allegations when they first became public. But in an interview Friday that aired shortly before his preseason debut for the Browns. he said, "I want to say that I'm truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation."

"The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back," he continued. "But I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward."

Last week, Goodell called for at least a one-year suspension.

Per ESPN's Jeff Legwold, Goodell added: "We've seen the evidence, [Robinson] was very clear about the evidence, she reinforced the evidence. There were multiple violations that were egregious, and it was predatory behavior."

Watson did not play at all last season while facing the lawsuits, although he had previously requested to be traded by the Houston Texans.

After a grand jury declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, the Browns sent three first-round picks, one third-round pick and two fourth-round picks to Houston in exchange for Watson.

Cleveland also signed Watson to a new contract worth $230 million over five years. The entirety of the contract was guaranteed, making it the most guaranteed money in NFL history.

The move spelled the end of 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield's tenure in Cleveland, as the Browns eventually traded him to the Carolina Panthers.

For now, the Browns are preparing for Jacoby Brissett to be the team's starting quarterback for the first six games of the 2022 regular season, although they could end up needing him for much longer than that.

The drop-off from Watson to Brissett is steep, as Watson is a three-time Pro Bowler, while Brissett is something of a journeyman, going 14-23 in 37 career starts with the New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts and Miami Dolphins.

Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Wednesday that Harvey won't rule on the NFL's appeal against the length of Watson's suspension until the NFL and NFLPA's talks reach an impasse.


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