The question of how long Deshaun Watson will be suspended by the NFL continues to linger.
“I’m told there’ve been recent attempts by the NFL, the NFLPA & Deshaun Watson’s advisors to negotiate a discipline settlement,” NFL insider Josina Anderson reported Thursday. “However talks involving a potential number of games missed ‘fell apart’ not being on the same page. As of now, process moves forward, per league sources.”
Watson has been accused of sexual misconduct by a large number of massage therapists. He settled civil cases with 20 of them earlier this week, and four remain unresolved.
He was not ultimately criminally charged in any of the cases. Watson and his attorneys have repeatedly claimed any sexual contact between the quarterback and massage therapists was consensual.
The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy grants the NFL wide latitude over disciplining players. Nonetheless, as Sportico legal analyst Michael McCann points out, a settlement would mean “closure” — and no appeals process or litigation that further draw out the resolution.
There is incentive for all sides in the matter to reach a swift resolution, but if talks fell through then logic dictates that Watson and the NFL were far apart in the amount of time he would agree to be suspended.
Anderson later added that “the goal remains to get the league process wrapped up so there’s an understanding going into training camps.”
It remains to be seen what the Browns will do at quarterback if Watson is suspended for all or part of the season. Baker Mayfield appears to be on his way out regardless. The team has veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett on the roster. Rumors percolated earlier this week they might “look into” a trade with the 49ers for Jimmy Garoppolo.