The uncertain status of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson could be moving toward some kind of certainty, soon.
League officials reportedly will meet with Watson in Texas this week, according to Josina Anderson. League spokesman Brian McCarthy tells PFT that the NFL “will decline comment on that tweet.”
McCarthy’s remark regarding the new report came in response to Monday morning questions questions aimed at securing information about the timetable for action, if any, against Watson. “We have no update,” McCarthy said. “There’s no timetable as the review is active and ongoing.”
A meeting with the player usually becomes a sign that the process is moving toward some sort of conclusion. Usually, the league meets with the player after interviewing his various accusers.
It’s unknown whether the league has met with all of Watson’s 22 accusers. The league has met with some of them. Through lawyer Tony Buzbee, some complained last year about the treatment they received via the questioning.
Some in the league office believe Watson should be placed on paid leave until the 22 pending civil lawsuits are resolved. Commissioner Roger Goodell made it clear during a March press conference that, if any action is going to be taken against Watson, he’ll simply be suspended. (Our email to the league office also sought confirmation as to that point.)
Recently, we explained the procedure that will apply to any such discipline, given changes made by the 2020 labor deal.
The league is not required to wait until the 22 cases are resolved before suspending Watson. The league could act now, it could wait, or it could impose a preliminary suspension with the door open for further action later.
My guess would be that the league will suspend him now, with the possibility of suspending him again later. But it’s just a guess. The league keeps its cards close to the vest, and it has learned in recent years to wait for as long as possible until making a decision.
Still, at some point a decision needs to be made. Justice delayed, as the saying goes, is justice denied. The Browns and Watson need to know whether he’ll be playing. He’ll also need to have time to fight whatever the league hopes to do, via the two-tiered procedure that begins with an independent hearing officer and concludes with an appeal handled by the Commissioner or his designee.