NFL Recommends One-Year Suspension For Watson As Disciplinary Hearings Commence
Disciplinary hearings for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson are underway to determine if he violated the league’s code of conduct policy in wake of his 24 lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct. Over the past few weeks, Watson settled 20 out of 24 of those lawsuits for undisclosed amounts but has yet to settle the remaining ones.
NFL and NFLPA appointed Sue L. Robinson to conduct the hearing, and she received a recommendation from the league for a one-year suspension for Watson. If the recommendation is carried out, Watson, as well as the NFLPA, can appeal the ruling. If that happens, Commissioner Roger Goodell would hold the power to rule on the appeal. If more information regarding Watson’s legal issues comes to light, the NFL is afforded some leeway to increase the punishment.
Just a reminder that, under the new CBA, as long as Sue Robinson recommends a Deshaun Watson suspension of any length, Roger Goodell gets the final say and can increase it to whatever length he wants. So if she says 2 games, Goodell can up it to 8, 10, 17 or whatever. #Browns
— Ed Greenberger (@EdGreenberger) June 28, 2022
Since the implementation of the league’s code of conduct policy in 2007, there have been a number of notable suspensions due to violations of the policy. Only a few have been overturned or reduced due to appeal. These include Ben Roethlisberger‘s six-game suspension due to an accusation of sexual assault in 2010, which was reduced to four games on appeal, Tom Brady‘s suspension due to Deflategate, which was appealed and then upheld in federal court, and Ezekiel Elliot‘s six-game suspension, which was given after the league recommended no suspension be given.
In March, Browns GM Andrew Berry said that the team would have continuous communication with the NFL regarding a possible suspension. It is worth noting that Watson is only owed $1 million this upcoming season, which ensures the Browns are not financially at a loss if a potential suspension does take place. Watson is on a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
Replacements for Watson include recently acquired Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs, while Case Keenum, who served as the backup quarterback last season, is also available. Baker Mayfield is expected to be traded to Seattle according to recent reports, however, he still remains rostered.
Watson has continued to deny any wrongdoing.