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Deshaun Watson will take the field for the first time since 2020 when he makes his debut for Cleveland Brown’s Preseason Exhibition on Friday night, but relying on his six-game suspension still looming, Watson is set to meet the NFL somewhere in the middle, according to a report.
The NFL initially demanded a suspension of at least one year for the former Houston Texans quarterback after 24 women accused him of sexual assault; however, an independent disciplinary officer appointed jointly by the league and the NFLPA issued a six-game suspension without penalty.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson takes part in drills during the NFL football team’s training camp, Monday, August 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Nick Cammett)
Now, as the NFL is appealing that decision over evidence proven by Commissioner Roger Goodell: “predatory behavior” by Watsonthe controversial quarterback is willing to agree to a heavier penalty.
DESHAUN WATSON’S SUSPENSION EXPLAINED IN THE DISCIPLINARY OFFICER’S 16-PAGE REPORT
A person familiar with Watson’s defense told the Associated Press on Thursday that he would accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine to avoid missing the entire season.
It is not yet clear whether the league is willing to compromise. Goodell claimed during Tuesday’s owners’ meetings that the evidence evaluated by retired Judge Sue L. Robinson was “very clear” in describing the basis of Watson’s case.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, participates in drills during the NFL football team’s training camp, Monday, August 1, 2022, in Berea, Ohio.
(AP Photo/Nick Cammett)
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“She was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence, that there were multiple violations here, and they were blatant, and it was predatory behavior,” Goodell said.
“Those were always things that we felt were really important for us to tackle and in a way that’s responsible.”
Deshaun Watson, #4 of the Cleveland Browns, takes off his helmet during Cleveland Brown’s training camp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on August 9, 2022 in Berea, Ohio.
(Nick Cammett/Getty Images)
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The fate of Watson’s future rests in the hands of former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Goodell last week to handle the case. While its decision would be binding under the collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA could challenge the decision in federal court.
Regardless of the verdict, Watson can still compete in preseason games, and Browns fans can too look at their new quarterback as Cleveland takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 7 p.m. ET
The Associated Press contributed to this report.