As explained earlier tonight, there’s a belief that Judge Sue L. Robinson delayed her decision in the Deshaun Watson case in order to give both sides a full and fair opportunity to attempt to resolve the case through negotiations.
Via Dan Graziano of ESPN.com, such an effort was made. But it went nowhere.
Citing unnamed sources, Graziano reports that the NFL and NFL Players Association engaged in settlement talks in recent days. The NFLPA, working with Watson’s camp, wasn’t willing to accept more than 6-8 games. The league would agree to 12 games plus a fine in the range of $8 million.
The fact that Watson was on, as a practical matter, unpaid leave in 2021 could have provided the basis for a settlement, and it still could. Because players who land on the Commissioner Exempt list and who eventually receive an unpaid suspension get credit for the games already missed, it would be simple to regard Watson as having served a 17-game suspension in 2021, if he surrenders his $10 million salary. That, plus another four games or so, should be an acceptable deal for both sides.
There’s still time for the league and the union to work it out. Four games, plus a $10 million fine that regards all of last season as an unpaid suspension. That’s something everyone should be able to live with. By the time Judge Robinson issues her decision, there’s a good chance that the league or the union will wish that this had been the agreed-to outcome.