Deshaun Watson settles case with NFL: QB suspended 11 games, hit with hefty fine after plea deal

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 he will be suspended for 11 games, which is a substantial increase about the six-match suspension that was originally delivered. In addition to the suspension, Watson has also been fined $5 million, which is 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 announced.

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

Seconds on ESPN.comWatson’s reinstatement is contingent on “complying with the treatment plan,” and if he doesn’t, the NFL could delay his reinstatement, potentially leading to a longer suspension.

In Watson’s end, he was glad to put the whole case behind him.

“I am grateful that the disciplinary process is over and I am very appreciative of the tremendous support I have received during my short time with 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 responsibility in his statement, he did not appear to accept any when asked about the deal during a news conference after the new punishment was announced.

“I will continue to maintain my innocence,” Watson said he 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 will play Houston on Dec. 4 on CBS.

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

Although Watson knock down a settlement offer last month, I wasn’t really in a position 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 because the appeal was being overseen by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who be appointed by Roger Goodell.

When it comes to settling down, the upside for Watson is that he now knows how long it will be. 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 received an indefinite suspension of at least a year .

The settlement ends a long road for this case, which began all the way to 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 rose to 24, though Watson settled 23 of these cases during the last two months.

The Browns made a trade for Watson in March 2022 despite knowing that there were two dozen lawsuits filed against him and that punishment was almost certain to come.

Watson was originally given a six-game suspension by former federal judge Sue Robinson, the disciplinary officer who was jointly appointed 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 August 1. In a 16-page ruling, Robinson agreed that Watson had violated the league’s personal conduct policy, but was not satisfied. it was enough of a precedent to get him suspended for more than six games.

While the NFL didn’t get the punishment it wanted from Robinson (the league expected to see a suspension of at least a year), the judge provided enough legal ammunition for the NFL to file an appeal. In his decision, 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 an actual danger to safety and the well-being of another person; and (3) conduct that undermines or jeopardizes the integrity of the NFL.”

While the longer ban means Watson will now be out until Week 13, he will be allowed to participate in preseason games if the Browns want to play him, but that doesn’t appear to be happening.

Watson will not have to begin serving his suspension on August 30. Seconds, 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, two weeks before his suspension ends.

As for his quarterback situation once the regular season rolls around, Browns coach Kevin Stefanski has said the team plans to start Jacoby Brissett in Week 1, but now it will be interesting to see if he remains his plan The Browns don’t have many options right now, but they could try to make a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo, which is something the team seems to have been thinking about during the last weeks.

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