Deshaun Watson settles case with NFL: QB suspended 11 games and hit with hefty fine after reaching an agreement


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The Cleveland Browns finally know how many games Deshaun Watson will miss this season after the quarterback reached a deal with the NFL on Thursday.

CBS Sports NFL Insiders Josina Anderson and Jonathan Jones reported that Watson will be suspended for 11 games, which is a substantial increase on the six-game suspension which he originally received. Along with the suspension, Watson was also hit with a $5 million fine, the largest fine ever imposed on a player in NFL history.

The settlement also requires Watson to comply with a professional treatment plan, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said.

“Deshaun is committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” Goodell said. “This settlement requires adherence to a professional assessment and treatment plan, a significant fine and a more substantial suspension.”

According on ESPN.comWatson’s reinstatement is “contingent upon his compliance with the treatment plan” and if he does not comply, the NFL could delay his reinstatement, which could result in a longer suspension.

On Watson’s side, he was just happy to put the whole thing behind him.

“I am grateful that the disciplinary process has been completed and extremely grateful for the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take responsibility for the decisions I have made.”

Although Watson mentioned responsibility in his statement, he didn’t seem to take any when asked about the settlement at a press conference after the new penalty was announced.

“I will continue to stand on my innocence”, Watson told the media on Thursday. “Just because settlements and things like that are happening doesn’t mean a person is guilty of anything.”

Watson’s decision to accept the NFL’s settlement offer means the matter is officially over from a football perspective. Watson will sit out Cleveland’s first 11 games of the season before being eligible to return to the team Nov. 28. In a twist, Watson’s first game back will come against his former team, the Houston Texans. The Browns are scheduled to play in Houston on December 4 on CBS.

The five extra games on the suspension means Watson will miss several key matchups he wouldn’t have missed under his initial six-game suspension. Here are the five new games he will miss now that five more weeks have been added to his punishment: at the Ravens (Week 7), Bengals (Week 8) Dolphins (Week 10), Bills (Week 11) and Buccaneers ( Week 12). The Browns also have a Week 9 bye in there.

Although Watson slaughtered a colony offer last month, he really wasn’t in a position to turn down an offer this time around. The NFL’s decision to appeal the original sanction put the ball in the league’s court because the appeal was overseen by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, appointed by Roger Goodell.

When it comes to the settlement, the upside for Watson is that he now knows how long he will miss. On the other hand, the benefit to the NFL is that the league won’t have to worry about the quarterback taking the case to federal court, which could have happened had Watson been suspended for an indefinite period of at least one year.

The settlement ends a long road for this case, which began all the way back in march 2021 when Watson was hit with a single civil lawsuit by a massage therapist who accused him of sexual misconduct. The total number of lawsuits eventually climbed to 24, although Watson settled 23 of these cases over the past two months.

Browns made a trade for Watson in March 2022 when he knew there were two dozen lawsuits filed against him and punishment was almost certain to come.

Watson initially received a six-game suspension from former federal judge Sue Robinson, the disciplinary officer who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA to handle the case. After a three-day hearing in June, Robinson waited more than a month before issuing his decision on August 1. In a 16-page ruling, Robinson agreed that Watson violated the league’s personal conduct policy, but she didn’t feel it. was enough precedent to suspend him for more than six games.

Although the NFL did not receive the punishment it expected from Robinson — the league hoped to see a suspension of at least a year — the judge provided enough legal ammunition for the NFL to appeal. In his ruling, Robinson essentially agreed with everything the NFL argued in the June hearing. In the ruling, Robinson wrote that Watson’s conduct violated three provisions of the NFL’s personal conduct policy “by engaging in: (1) sexual assault; (2) conduct that poses a genuine danger to safety and well-being of another person; and (3) conduct that undermines or endangers the integrity of the NFL.”

Although the longer ban means Watson will now be out until Week 13, he will be allowed to play pre-season games if the Browns want to play him, but that doesn’t seem to be happening.

Watson will not have to begin serving his suspension on August 30. According ESPN.com, he will be able to return to the team facilities on October 10 to participate in limited activities. Watson will then be cleared to return to training on November 14, a full two weeks before his suspension ends.

As for their quarterback situation once the regular season rolls around, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said says the team plans to start Jacoby Brissett in Week 1, but now it’ll be interesting to see if that’s still his plan. The Browns don’t have many options at the moment, but they could try to make a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, who is something the team apparently thought about over the past few weeks.

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