The NFL and the NFL Players Association reached an agreement Thursday on the deshaun watson disciplinary matter, agreeing that the cleveland browns The quarterback will serve an 11-game suspension without pay after more than two dozen women accused him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions.
Watson will also pay a $5 million fine and undergo a mandatory evaluation by behavioral experts and follow the suggested treatment schedule.
Watson’s fine and contributions from both the NFL and the Browns of $1 million each will create a fund to support nonprofit organizations in the United States “that educate young people about healthy relationships, promote education and sexual assault and abuse prevention, support for survivors and related activities. causes,” the NFL said in announcing the deal.
“I am grateful that the disciplinary process is over and extremely grateful for the tremendous support I have received during my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a statement released by the Browns. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take responsibility for the decisions I’ve made. My focus going forward is to work on becoming the best version of myself on and off the field and support my teammates. team as possible while I’m here. I am away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
Watson’s suspension will take effect Aug. 30 when NFL teams lower the 53-player roster cap. He will be eligible for his reinstatement on November 28 and will be available to play for the Browns again in Week 13, when Cleveland faces his old team, the houston texansin the path.
The agreement between the two sides triggers a ruling by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, whom Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed to oversee the NFL’s appeal of disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson’s decision to suspend Watson. for six games.
“Deshaun is committed to doing the hard work necessary for his return to the NFL,” Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the groundwork for reaching this conclusion.” “.
Robinson, an independent referee appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, originally ruled Aug. 1 that Watson would serve a six-game suspension but not be fined for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, in a 16-day report. pages. that “the NFL assumed its responsibility to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that Mr. Watson committed a sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the Report.”
Goodell, explaining the league’s decision to appeal Robinson’s decisionhe said the evidence called for at least a full year’s suspension.
“As we have previously communicated, Deshaun and his representatives have respected the structure of the NFL and NFLPA pending a final decision and we have respected the process,” Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam said in a statement. “Now that a decision on discipline has been reached, we understand that this is a real opportunity to create meaningful change and we are committed to investing in programs in Northeast Ohio that will educate our young people about awareness, understanding and, what is more important, the prevention of sexual abuse”. misconduct and the many underlying causes of such behavior. Since Deshaun entered our building, he has been a leading member of our organization and has shown a true dedication to working on himself both on and off the field. We will continue to support him as he focuses on earning the trust of our community.”
Watson has been accused of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage therapy sessions in lawsuits brought by 25 women. The actions alleged in the lawsuits took place from March 2020 to March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Texans. One of the 25 lawsuits was dismissed after a judge ruled in April 2021 that the plaintiffs must modify their requests to reveal their names. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson, but did not sue him.
Watson has either settled or agreed to settle all but one of the remaining lawsuits, which remains pending. In July, the Texans reached settlements with 30 women who had made or were prepared to make claims against the NFL organization for its alleged “enablement” of Watson’s behavior.
Although two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL had been investigating whether he violated its personal conduct policy since 2021. The league interviewed Watson over several days earlier this summer. NFL investigators also spoke with several of the women.
In his report, which concluded that Watson violated the personal conduct policy with “egregious” and “predatory” behavior, Robinson noted that an aggravating factor in his decision to suspend Watson for six games was his “lack of expressed remorse.”
After previously denying any wrongdoing and saying he “doesn’t regret” any of his actions during massage sessions, Watson publicly apologized to “every woman I’ve impacted” on August 12, before beginning the Cleveland’s first preseason game against the jacksonville jaguars.
Watson has not spoken to reporters since the start of training camp.
The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to the Texans. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract that was the richest deal in NFL history for any player.
Watson’s contract with the Browns guarantees him a league-record $230 million, with a base salary rising to $46 million in 2023 and a signing bonus of $44.965 million.
However, because Cleveland structured his contract to include a 2022 base salary of just $1.035 million, Watson would only lose $57,500 per suspended game, without the $5 million penalty imposed in the deal. Watson’s total lost pay this season will be $632,500.
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said at the start of training camp that Jacob Brissett he would become Cleveland’s starter in the event of a Watson suspension, and he recently indicated that he “is very impressed” with Brissett so far.
“Very comfortable with him,” Stefanski said. “I think he has a very good understanding of what we’re trying to do offensively.”
Despite being a backup for much of his career, Brissett has 37 starts and a 14-23 record.