Deshaun Watson settles case with NFL: QB suspended 11 games, fined hefty after deal worked out

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

CBS Sports NFL Insiders Josina Anderson and Jonathan Jones have reported that Watson will be banned for 11 games, a significant increase because of the six-match ban that he was originally betrayed. In addition to the suspension, Watson was also fined $5 million, the largest fine ever given to a player in NFL history.

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

“DeShon is committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary to return to the NFL,” Goodell said. “This agreement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a substantial fine and a more substantial suspension.”

According to to ESPN.comWatson’s recovery “depends on his compliance with the treatment plan,” and if he doesn’t, the NFL could delay his recovery, which could lead to a longer suspension.

As for Watson, he was just glad to put the whole affair behind him.

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

Although Watson mentioned accountability in his statement, he appeared to take nothing when asked about the settlement during a press conference after the new punishment was announced.

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

Watson’s decision to accept the NFL’s settlement offer means the case 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 on 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 at Houston on Dec. 4 on CBS.

The added five games to the suspension means Watson will miss several key games that he would not have missed under his original six-game ban. Here are the five new games he will miss now that five additional weeks have been added to his suspension: at Ravens (Week 7), Bengals (Week 8), at Dolphins (Week 10), at Bills (Week 11) and Buccaneers (Week 12). The Browns also have a Week 9 bye there.

Although Watson they demolish a settlement offer last month, he was unable to turn down an offer this time. The NFL’s decision to appeal the original punishment put the ball squarely in the league’s court, as the appeal was overseen by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Roger Goodell.

As for the settlement, the advantage for Watson is that he already knows how much time he will miss. On the other hand, the upside for the NFL is that the league won’t have to worry about the quarterback taking the case to federal court, which could have happened if Watson had been suspended indefinitely for at least a year.

The settlement ends a long way for this case to begin not until March 2021 when Watson was sued by a massage therapist who accused him of sexual misconduct. The total number of cases eventually rose to 24, although Watson settled 23 of those cases in the last two months.

The brown ones made a deal for Watson in March 2022, even though he knew there were two dozen cases filed against him and that punishment was almost certain to come.

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

Although the NFL didn’t get the punishment it wanted from Robinson — the league had hoped to see a suspension of at least a year — the judge provided enough legal ammunition for the NFL to file an appeal. In his ruling, Robinson essentially agreed with everything the NFL argued during 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 real danger to the safety and well-being of another person; and (3) conduct that undermines or jeopardizes the integrity of the NFL.”

While the longer suspension means Watson will be out until Week 13, he will be eligible to participate in preseason games if the Browns want to play him, but it doesn’t sound like that will happen.

Watson will not have to begin serving his sentence on August 30. According to ESPN.com, he will be eligible to return to the team facility on Oct. 10 to participate in limited activities. Watson will then be allowed to resume training on November 14, a full two weeks before his suspension ends.

As for the quarterback situation once the regular season gets underway, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said the team plans to start Jacoby Brissett in Week 1, but now it will be interesting to see if that’s still his plan. The Browns don’t have many options right now, but they could try to trade Jimmy Garoppolo, which is something the team has obviously thought about over the past few weeks.

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