Wednesday was the 48th day since Deshaun Watson and the NFL made their cases in front of disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson. It was the 16th day since she handed the Browns quarterback a six-game suspension for violations of the NFL personal conduct policy, and two full weeks since the league appealed that ruling.
It might also be the day a true resolution appeared to be as close to imminent since the entire process began.
Multiple reports on Wednesday indicated Watson and the NFL Players Association were involved in “active” negotiations with the NFL to reach a settlement in the discipline against him. Those reports stated a final settlement could be coming “soon.”
Wednesday’s reports come six days after an Associated Press report that stated Watson’s camp was open to settling. The report said the numbers it was putting out were for eight games and a $5 million fine.
Any settlement would certainly include some monetary punishment as well as additional games. However, it would help Watson avoid the potential of a full-season suspension, which is what the league has indicated it is seeking in the case.
The NFL announced it was appealing Robinson’s Aug. 1 suspension decision two days after she issued her ruling. On Aug. 4, a day later, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell named former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey to be his designated to hear the appeal.
Harvey, per the personal conduct policy, is limited during the appeal to consideration of the terms of discipline imposed by Robinson and based upon a review of the existing record without reference to evidence or testimony not previously considered. His ruling is “final and binding,” per the collective bargaining agreement.
Robinson originally heard the case against Watson over a three-day period from June 28-30. Both sides then filed post-hearing briefs July 12.
Watson’s suspension stems from allegations made by 26 women through the judicial system of sexual misconduct or sexual assault during massages. Of those, 24 resulted in lawsuits, 23 of which have been settled in the last month and a half.
The Houston Texans, Watson’s former team, also settled with 30 women who made or intended to make claims against the franchise for its alleged role in enabling him. They traded Watson to Cleveland on March 18, along with a 2024 sixth-round pick, in exchange for first-round picks in 2022, 2023 and 2024, a 2022 third-round pick and a 2024 fourth-round pick.
Goodell, who could’ve heard the case himself per the personal conduct policy and CBA, has indicated on the record while at the NFL Owners Meetings last week in Minneapolis that the league was seeking an indefinite suspension of no less than a full season.
Watson made his in-game debut with the Browns in their preseason opener last Friday in Jacksonville, his first game appearance since the Texans’ regular-season finale against Tennessee Jan. 3, 2021. Showered with boos throughout his three series, he was 1-of-5 for 7 yards passing over nine plays.
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