Reassessing the NFL’s options for Deshaun Watson, if paid leave is off the table

Cleveland Browns Introduce Quarterback Deshaun Watson
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Some in the league office believed that Commissioner Roger Goodell would not allow Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson to play with 22 civil actions pending. Goodell’s remarks from Tuesday seemingly take the possibility of paid leave until the cases are resolved off the table.

“If the criminal [cases] had proceeded, that more than likely would have triggered the Commissioner exempt [list],” Goodell said. “I think at this point, the civil case in and of itself would not do that. If there’s a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, that may trigger something, but that more than likely trigger some kind of discipline in some fashion.”

There was (and still may be) a belief among some at 345 Park Avenue that the Commissioner would not (and should not) let Watson play with 22 pending civil cases, and that he would (should) be be placed on paid leave until the litigation ends. After that, he’d then face a potential unpaid suspension.

So what will happen if paid leave won’t happen? The NFL could suspend Watson now, if it believes there’s enough evidence to justify a finding of a violation, and be done with it. It also can impose a suspension, and it can leave the door open for further action based on the manner in which the cases are resolved. Or the league can wait until the cases end before taking any action.

Last year, when the Dolphins were interested in trading for Watson but hinged a trade on all cases being settled, the Dolphins believed that a 22-case settlement would result in a six-game suspension. The range of 6-8 games has generally been discussed by many in the league since the total number of cases against Watson hit 22.

There’s also a chance that evidence emerging from the pending lawsuits over the next few months could change Goodell’s mind about whether to use paid leave. It seems more likely based on his Tuesday comments that, in lieu of suspending him with pay, Goodell would just suspend Watson without pay.

Precedent exists for suspending a player without criminal charges. In 2010, Goodell suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for six games, later reduced to four, for similar charges. He had been sued in 2009 for rape, and he faced allegations of sexual misconduct a year later in Georgia. In 2017. Goodell suspended Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott for six games based on alleged domestic violence, even though he was never arrested, charged, or sued.

Watson presumably will face some sort of discipline. Then again, if the league waits until the cases end to make any decisions and if Watson ends up winning each of the 22 pending cases, what would he be disciplined for? In the eyes of both sides of the justice system, he will have been found to have done nothing wrong.

20 responses to “Reassessing the NFL’s options for Deshaun Watson, if paid leave is off the table

  1. Watson has said it a hundred times,he’s not going g to settle any cases. I’m interested to see how all 22 turn out. If he did something they would have gotten him by now.

  2. One guarantee is that this will be resolved with or without suspension. Will the resolution satisfy everyone? Absolutely not. It’s mind boggling how so many people love to point their finger & never their thumb as if they sweat holy water. I absolutely believe Deshaun could have made better decisions to prevent his legal situation, but he didn’t. He’s an imperfect human being like us all. It’s easy to compare apples to oranges to justify the hate chase for him, but I challenge any of you in the chase to do some “honest self reflection” and you will see another imperfect human being that to this day is still a work in progress. After his legal situation is resolved, give the young man a chance to continue to grow & mature. Maturing is a life long process & we all have an individual pace.

  3. stinkman says:
    March 29, 2022 at 7:10 pm
    What did the commissioner ever do with Patriots owner Kraft?


    Did you just compare consensual sex between 2 adults to a serial sex abuser with 22 women?

  4. The only thing different is kraft is a billionaire and was able to change the law

  5. Or, the NFL could do it’s own internal investigation instead of waiting a year. Then, based on what they find, they could make an informed decision on how best to proceed and move on.
    Or, they could drag all this drama out like a reality show would, ride the publicity, and make another few tons of money…. Maybe the game we are watching isn’t the game being played.

  6. What if another billionaire owner paid 22 women to accuse Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers of misconduct? Would they be suspended until they could clear their names? Promising people a large payday for signing on to a lawsuit could become a new way of winning.

  7. Thankfully he’s not my teams quarterback, and for all of the people claiming he did nothing wrong will you be proudly buying your daughter his jersey this year? Yea that’s what I thought

  8. “what would he be disciplined for?” I’ll say this again. He reached out over instagram to multiple women, some of whom weren’t even licensed, to get a massage with the intent of one thing: having some sort of sexual relations without being upfront about it? Illegal? Maybe not. Immoral? For sure. This is not behavior the NFL wants to condone or let slip without doing anything. You can slice it any way you want, this is what happened.

  9. Let be honest. If you actually read the complaints. The Vivian cases will be thrown out soon too. Deshaun is going to go full Rittenhouse on the media with Defnation cases when this is said and done.

  10. An unpaid suspension for Watson is a farce due to the contract paying him only $1 million in the first year. Goodell and the NFL should not approve that contract.

  11. No billed in grand juries twice. He’s a rich athlete. Prime for a target on his back. He engaged in behavior that opened himself up to this thing, but, so far, there’s nothing criminal there. I’m really not a Watson fan. His recent press conference made my skin crawl, but consensual sex, regardless of how weird it might be perceived, is still legal. At this point, the nfl has nothing to suspend him on. It’s still VERY possible that all of this is just a cash grab by a slime ball lawyer and a bunch of gullible women willing to play along for a payday. Let the process play out. If he’s guilty, suspend him, ban him, whatever the facts support, but if he’s innocent, let it go.

  12. The facts as we know them so far:

    1.. Watson had sex with multiple women under the guise of massage
    2. Two grand juries have decided not to indict.
    3. Almost everything publicly released has come from Tony Buzbee.
    4. Tony Buzbee is well documented to be an attorney of, let’s call it, “questionable” character.
    5. Zero criminal complaints were filed prior to the plaintiffs contact with Buzbee.
    6. See # 4.

  13. Keep the suspensions similar:

    Roethlisberger was suspended 6 games for similar behavior. 6 game suspension for Ezekiel for one woman.

    Now let’s figure 22 women x 6 games each = 132 game suspension for Watson. Then he can play.

    Or maybe he can appeal it down to 4 games per women and just sit out 88 games.

    Seems fair to me.

  14. Give Watson a four game suspension per case. At 22 cases, he’ll be back on the field and ready to go by the 2027 season.

  15. I would think Goodell will place Watson on the Commissioner Exempt List until all the 22 lawsuits have been resolved.

  16. Watson restructured his contract so he’s hardly making anything this year if the NFL wants to punish him wait until all the facts are in and suspend him some games next year when he making a huge salary

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