Deshaun Watson suspension: NFL, NFLPA negotiate potential settlement as appeal verdict looms


Deshaun Watson’s immediate NFL future is currently in the hands of former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, designated by the league to handle the appeal of the first disciplinary recommendations for the Browns quarterback. With Harvey’s deliberation looming, however, the NFL and NFL Players Association are in “active settlement negotiations,” according to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones, and the outcome will likely allow him to take the field in 2022.

Former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson, appointed jointly by the NFL and the NFLPA to recommend Watson, initially proposed a six-game suspension for the QB, which received 24 civil lawsuits over the season for alleged sexual misconduct. The NFL quickly appealed the ruling, with Commissioner Roger Goodell seeking at least a season ban for Watson after a league investigation revealed a pattern of “predatory” behavior by former Texans QB in dozens of private massage sessions.

Harvey, a former district attorney who previously upheld the Cowboys suspension that Ezekiel Elliott set back in 2017 by the NFL, is expected to extend Watson’s suspension in his upcoming appeal ruling, Aaron Wilson said. It’s possible he could even institute an indefinite ban, which the league reportedly asked for during Robinson’s first hearing. Meanwhile, a potential settlement between the NFL and NFLPA, who represent Watson, could theoretically extend the six-game ban without forcing the QB to miss all of 2022.

Robinson stated in her initial findings that Watson’s “pattern of behavior,” while not criminally charged, is “more outrageous than ever before assessed by the NFL.” The QB, who has confidentially handled all but one of the 24 lawsuits he faced, has maintained his innocence, although he has only recently shown remorse for his actions during the investigated series of private massage sessions. The Browns, who have guaranteed a record $230 million to Watson this spring as part of a trade for the Pro Bowler, have publicly defended Watson and his character since they acquired him.

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