Will NFL place Deshaun Watson on paid leave?

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With each additional allegation against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, it becomes more and more difficult to downplay or explain away the situation. Thirteen women and counting have accused Watson of sexual assault during massages. More may soon file suit. It’s becoming a more and more significant distraction for the league, the Texans, and Watson — especially since Watson’s team has done hardly anything to push back against these charges.

And so the question becomes whether the NFL eventually will push Watson out. Out of the league, until all cases are resolved. At some point, the sheer volume of the allegations overpowers the situation. With 13 cases filed and up to nine more expected, will the NFL exercise its broad power to place Watson on the Commissioner-Exempt list?

That would have significant consequences for Watson, and for the Texans. Watson would be barred from practicing or playing. The Texans, however, would be required to pay Watson his salary — more than $10 million in 2021.

The question then would become whether the Texans would simply cut Watson to avoid owing him salary that he wouldn’t be allowed to earn.

The mere possibility of paid leave turns the entire relationship between player and team on its head. Before last Tuesday, Watson wanted nothing to do with the Texans. Now, remaining on the Texans could be Watson’s only path to getting paid in 2021.

If the Texans were to cut him, would anyone sign him? Maybe a team would roll the dice on the possibility that, eventually, it will have a franchise quarterback on the roster. When will that be, however, and what will be the cost?

Beyond the financial expenditure, signing Watson at this point will create a major P.R. hit, unless and until Watson’s P.R. team finds a way to counter the damage that has been done to his overall image in just six days.

With each passing day, it’s getting worse instead of better. At some point, it could get so bad that Watson won’t be on the field until all of these claims are behind him, and until he has served whatever suspension the league decides to impose.

67 responses to “Will NFL place Deshaun Watson on paid leave?

  1. I’m still waiting for 1 piece of credible evidence on any 1 of the lawsuits. So there’s that

  2. I always thought the commissioner’s exempt list makes no sense in a situation like this. The team forced to pay the player is being penalized for something beyond their control. let him play until the charges are proven, or there is a financial settlement. Then if he’s not in jail suspend him WITHOUT pay. I just don’t get it.

  3. The NFL has set the precedent for punishment with the way Zeke Elliot was handled.
    Elliot received six (6) games for merely being accused by one woman and for his public disrobing of another woman. (She pressed no charges).
    Watson has now received 13 lawsuits. Assuming the NFL doesn’t care about the outcome of those cases, it reasons that Watson should receive a suspension of at least 3 seasons.

  4. For every Deshaun Watson, there’s 20 more that hope to go unnoticed. The surface has only been scratched here.

  5. isn’t “the list” for folks who are in criminal trouble? Or is it supposed to cover civil as well?

  6. Why should Watson’s team push back against the charges? He’s stated multiple times that he never wants to play for them again. He’s on his own,as far as the Texans are concerned.

  7. howboutthemcowboys2020 says:
    March 22, 2021 at 7:41 pm

    I’m still waiting for 1 piece of credible evidence on any 1 of the lawsuits. So there’s that
    ************************************
    Do you have access to the court filings to determine if the accusations are “credible”?

    And what did you say about Christine Blasey Ford I wonder?

  8. Only speaking to how I think it should be handled, not how it has.

    1) Criminal charged filed? Check – commissioner’s list. You need evidence for criminal charges. This even tho I believe the real standard should be innocent to proven guilty.
    2) Civil allegations? Absolutely not. There are almost zero barriers to filing a civil case. Now a judge may decide to not hear it, calling it frivolous, but anyone can say anything and get access to the court. Not a high enough standard for me.

    Fact is celebs are targets, and with the additional element of legalized gambling? Sorry in my book there needs to be a higher standard than has been used in the past.

  9. The Texans would be fools to cut Watson. $10 million is worth whatever trade value he has after these cases are settled. Plus, Watson may see the Texans standing by him and change his mind about the trade request/demand.

    However, if I was running the Texans, I would suspend Watson for conduct detrimental to the team, BEFORE the NFL puts him on the Commissioners Exempt List.

    Watson is in deep doo doo, IMHO!

  10. He’s got a lot on his plate, he should be focusing his efforts on his legal and civil issues -the Texans should’ve traded him when the getting was good

  11. “Paid leave” for a multi millionaire….the league SHOULD hold all money pending the outcome of his lawsuits.

  12. With no evidence provided – only allegations – I’m interested to let this play out. To be clear, if Watson is guilty of even one incident of sexual assault, get him out of the league – period.

    But the reason I’m not jumping to conclusions is the lawyer who is facilitating all of this, who possesses about as much credibility as Sidney Powell. Rusty Hardin is a great litigator. Tony Buzbee is not. Buzbee apparently approached Watson with the allegations and a settlement after Watson’s trade request became public? Interesting.

    To be honest, I wouldn’t be shocked to learn that this was some sort of Easterby/McNair plan to shift public support for Watson away from him and back to the team. This will get down votes, but anyone who thinks this sort of stuff doesn’t happen – especially with high-ego, spoiled people who will abuse power they’ve accumulated – I’ve got ocean front property in Nebraska to sell you.

    If Watson is guilty – prosecute what can be prosecuted and get him out of the league. But if this comes out that it’s a coercion effort with Asian massage therapists to swear affidavits against Watson or face some other issues – and for those who don’t know Tony Buzbee, this isn’t anywhere close to being out of the realm of possibility.

    Let the process play out. If he’s guilty/responsible for this reprehensible behavior, get him out of the league. If not, he plays.

    Question for Florio – would the Texans be able to collect insurance on Watson’s contract if he’s put on the exempt list and still paid? Curious if that would be in the boiler plate contract terms.

  13. “The team has not pushed back…” This is correct. The Q is though, has the team pushed forward (behind the scenes)? Clearly they now have a way to try to recoup signing bonus $ from Watson following a formal breakup -which is likely coming. If they are successful in getting $ back, that would give them more cap space also. Also it means it’s harder for Watson to find a team willing to trade for him and if he feels he has few options he might settle for playing for the Texans after all. Its also possible It is purely vindictive on Easterby’s part if you look at what Easterby has done to past employees who haven’t danced to his tune.

  14. You expect the team to support him? What team says; “we fully support our guy, despite 13 different women coming forward”. Ya, that would go over really well… Have you missed the “culture” in the last 2 years?

  15. It would be awesome if the charges were trumped up by Watson and his agent. The Texans release Watson because they don’t want to pay him and have him sit while on paid leave. The charges then start to magically disappear and then Watson is a free agent to go where he wants.

  16. Should be without pay, and if he is cleared of the allegations the team should be forced to pay.

  17. A lot of internet lawyers on these message boards. I honestly hope 90% of them do not ever serve on a jury.

  18. One thing is for sure. There will be NO settlement with Rusty Hardin. and if these allegations are not true, Hardin will eat these accusers alive.

  19. 13 women….that’s a lot…..hard to believe that lots of this is not true…..yet teams are still interested in this guys……says alot about the NFL and where our society is at in general.

  20. I can’t stand how the Media ignores the NFL trying to be a justice system itself. He has not been charged with 1 crime at all. The pats owner was actually charge with a crime were you writing for him to be suspended Mike ? No we don’t think so.

  21. I don’t know why the NFL continues to interject themselves in off-field issues. They don’t have any law enforcement or subpoena power and they have zero ability to truly investigate. The league should consistently take the stance that they punish upon conviction. Not having any rhyme or reason for what they “investigate” and who they punish are a big reason why NFL HQ is such a laughingstock.

  22. Considering he isn’t paid again until week 1 of the regular season, I would say no.

  23. “howboutthemcowboys2020 says:
    March 22, 2021 at 7:41 pm
    I’m still waiting for 1 piece of credible evidence on any 1 of the lawsuits. So there’s that”

    I’m sure their legal team will send that right over. What’s your AOL email address?

  24. It is amusing to see the inconsistent the media reaction is to how AB was covered for allegations amounting to far less vs how DW is being covered. AB got cut after the second allegation and then got 8 games. But it seems to pain reporters to turn a guy they painted as a righteous victim vs AB getting what or less than he deserved. Along with free legal and PR advice for his defense. Maybe he isn’t the hero social justice crusader he was painted to be and maybe his attorney and the Texans are not the bad guys here.

  25. Not to undermine misconduct or possible misogynistic behavior but I’ve seen plenty of cases where women being massaged by a male misuse will get up and leave if something inappropriate happens. Here you have 13 women who stand over a guy, who’s wearing nothing, as a professional, do things, then months later claim misconduct. Bizzare. At what point do you just walk away. Sounds like he had a persuasive and forceful MO and now are looking for money after consenting or no relationship came of it.

  26. Sure give him a paid vacation. What he’s accused of warrants that little perk. SMH.

  27. the NFL strong-armed ESPN into cancelling Playmakers, which featured storylines of murder, domestic violence, and drug use, because in Paul Tagliabue’s words it was a “gross mischaracterization of our sport.”

  28. This is what the NFL does to uppity players thinking they have power. Think again.

  29. I’m not saying he didn’t do it, I have no idea. But, that’s the point, nothing has been proved yet. Our society has changed. We are now guilty until we somehow prove our innocence. It seems court in now done through social media.

  30. Only smart thing Ryan Pace has done in first rd by not drafting this P O S,if this is all true.

  31. goodell and his keystone cops have proven time and again that they can screw up a junk yard with a rubber mallet. let the legal process play out with professional investigators not hacks looking to make facts conform to a predetermined conclusion.

  32. At the moment, Tua is really liking his odds of being the Dolphins starting quarterback in 2021…..

  33. Deshaun Watson has now become the asbestos-lined underground PCB storage tank of the NFL.

  34. minnifieldanddixon says:

    I wonder what the Texans knew and when they knew it.

    ******************************************************

    This doesn’t help the Texans in any way… What I wonder is if this had anything to do with why Watson wanted to get out of Houston so bad…

  35. I can easily believe the events occurred. My massage therapist has complained about some of her clients having the wrong idea of what type of massage she gives. But you’d think the man would learn.

  36. howboutthemcowboys2020 says:
    March 22, 2021 at 7:41 pm
    I’m still waiting for 1 piece of credible evidence on any 1 of the lawsuits. So there’s that

    __________________________________________

    They are doing it right by keeping evidence private and handing it over to the police. This isn’t a battle of public opinion.

  37. Rusty is such an honest attorney, he defended Roger Clemens, saying he didn’t use steroids. How did that one turn out for his client?

  38. I am not trying to make light of the claims of these women but something is really fishy here. All, 14 now and possible 24 in total, women are represented by the same lawyer. With all of the cases of inappropriate behavior that have gone on in the last few years, none of them had all the victims represented by the same person. Also there hasn’t been one shred of evidence detailed yet, just claims. They also offered him a settle for money before all these claims came out. This is sexual assault yet to criminal charges have been made. Just seems really fishy.

  39. ronniemundsmambo says:
    March 22, 2021 at 11:01 pm
    It is amusing to see the inconsistent the media reaction is to how AB was covered for allegations amounting to far less vs how DW is being covered. AB got cut after the second allegation and then got 8 games. But it seems to pain reporters to turn a guy they painted as a righteous victim vs AB getting what or less than he deserved. Along with free legal and PR advice for his defense. Maybe he isn’t the hero social justice crusader he was painted to be and maybe his attorney and the Texans are not the bad guys here.

    33 4 Rate This

    ——————

    Goodell is a cheater. Brown played for NE.

    See?

  40. I am so heart broken, I really liked this dude but the more women that come forward the more it doesn’t look good for him.

  41. Sounds good but in practice there are lots of issues. What does paid leave even look like over the offseason? And court cases can take years so you’re suggesting he’d have to sit out until 20-some cases are all resolved? Theoretically he could decide to fight these and win them all in court but still lose years of his career despite never being found guilty of anything.

  42. It really only matters if the Texans are a protected, get favorable outcomes team of Rogers like the KC. If they are protected nothing happens to Watson just like Hill.

  43. Innocent until PROVEN guilty….why do people think it’s guilty until proven innocent.

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