The NFL has informed Deshaun Watson, the players’ union and disciplinary officer, that they will recommend an indefinite suspension of at least one year.

CLEVELAND, Ohio – The NFL has informed Deshaun Watson and his camp, the NFL Players Association and Disciplinary Officer Sue L. Robinson that they are recommending an indefinite suspension for Watson without pay for at least one year, confirms sources for

Watson, 26, would be allowed to apply for reinstatement after the season.

The indefinite ban for a minimum of one year under the Personal Conduct Guidelines was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

If Robinson, who will begin hearing the case on Tuesday and pronounces the first ruling, follows the NFL’s recommendation, Watson will potentially miss at least the entire 2022 season and hope to return to the field in 2023. Certain conditions must be met, including probably continue the counseling sessions he acknowledged June 14 that he has been through.

But once the first discipline is given, both sides – the NFL or NFLPA – can appeal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, whose words will be final. As long as Robinson determines that Watson has violated the policy and imposes a suspension, fine or both, Goodell or an appointee may change it at will.

The WSJ reported Saturday that during discussions between the NFL and the NFLPA, the league has refused to give in to less than a year’s suspension for Watson, who sat out all of last season in Houston after asking to be traded and while involved in the lineup . lawsuits. He was paid $ 10.54 million in salary while he was a healthy scraper for all 17 games.

This season, the Browns set his base salary at $ 1.035 million in a move to save money – the signing bonus was $ 44.965 million – meaning he would only lose $ 57,500 for each game he is suspended.

Watson, accused of sexually assaulting nearly 30 massage therapists, mostly in the Houston area, has maintained his innocence throughout the process, repeating during the mandatory minicamp June 14 that “I have never forced anyone, I have never assaulted anyone, so it is what I have been, says it from the beginning, and I will continue to do so until all the facts come out on the legal side. “

Twenty-four of the women filed civil lawsuits, 20 of which Watson decided on June 21, not as an admission of guilt, a source said, but to move forward with the process and career. In response, the NFL said the settlements would have no impact on their disciplinary process. On Monday, one of the four remaining plaintiffs also filed a lawsuit against the Houston Texans for allegedly enabling Watson’s behavior.

If Watson is out this season, he will probably be replaced by backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has gone 14-23 in his six-year career. The Browns will add another quarterback, possibly as a backup to Brissett, but are still trying to replace Baker Mayfield and have no current plans to play him.

Depending on the final terms of Watson’s discipline, his contract could roll until next season, meaning the clock would not start on his NFL record, fully guaranteed $ 230 million five-year contract before 2023. In that case, the Browns would retain his rights through 2027.

Given that they pay him an NFL-high average of $ 46 million a year, it would be in Brown’s best interest to have him suspended indefinitely, as opposed to a limited 17-game suspension that would wipe out the first season of his contract. .

Under the collective agreement, the NFL had to inform Watson, the union and Robinson about the recommended discipline at least 10 days before the hearing began.

This coincides with the time when Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio revealed that the NFLPA planned to fight hard against the penalty mainly on the grounds that the league has not come down as hard on NFL owners Bob Kraft of the Patriots, Jerry Jones of the Cowboys. and Daniel Snyder of Commanders, despite their direct or indirect involvement in allegations of sexual abuse by themselves or anyone in their organization.

The NFLPA has brought in attorney Jeffrey Kessler, their heavy-hitter, to argue Watson’s case. Kessler will undoubtedly quote that two large juries in Texas refused to prosecute Watson for criminal charges, and that there is no concrete evidence of fraudulent conduct. Buzbee stated two weeks ago that he plans to file two more lawsuits on behalf of two more therapists, but they have not been filed yet and may not be in the wake of the settlement.

However, Buzbee said in a statement Monday that he would file “many” more cases against Texas for enabling Watson’s alleged abuse by arranging a hotel room and giving him a confidentiality statement.

The NFL came to its recommendation for an indefinite suspension for at least 17 games after a 15-month investigation led by league attorneys Lisa Friel and Jennifer Gaffney, both former prosecutors. They interviewed 11 of the 24 plaintiffs, and Watson on two occasions for a total of four hours. The WSJ reported that the NFL will focus on five prosecutors who have the strongest cases, and back it up with text messages from their accounts, which they say establish a pattern of disruptive behavior on Watson’s part.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, told earlier this month that the NFL would make its final decision on Watson before the training camp starts on July 27. Depending on the conditions of discipline, Watson may be able to attend training camp, but he will not be allowed to play in the preseason. The hearing may take a few days this week, or longer.

Throughout the spring, the Browns have stood by Watson and are still all in on him despite a huge national setback. On March 18, the Watson Browns selected from among their four suitors, in part because of the groundbreaking contract, and they sent six draft picks to the Texans, including three first-rounders, fourth-rounders in 2022 and 2024, and a third-rounder in 2023.

At the time, many thought Watson would be suspended somewhere near six to eight games, with a chance to reduce it on appeal.

For comparison, Ben Roethlisberger was suspended for six games in 2010 after a 20-year-old student accused him of sexually abusing her at a nightclub in Georgia, and reduced it to four. Brown’s running back Kareem Hunt was suspended for eight games in 2019 for two separate quarrels, including one involving a woman. Like Watson, none of them had been charged.

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