Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has settled with 20 of the 24 massage therapists who had sued him. It has no affect on his status with the NFL.
While that goes without saying, the league said it anyway.
“Today’s development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Watson’s potential punishment under the Personal Conduct Policy exists independently of the outcome of the 24 cases. The behavior itself — setting up private massages reportedly with at least 66 women through social media and having some of them become sexual encounters — could justify discipline even if he would have won every single lawsuit.
That said, slashing the pending cases from 24 to four likely prevents paid leave from returning to the NFL’s radar screen. Especially if Watson’s next step is (as it should be) to get the remaining cases settled.
The question then becomes the extent of the suspension the league will propose. PFT reported last week that the NFL Players Association anticipates an “unprecedented” punishment. The Washington Post thereafter reported it will “probably” be a full season.