NFLPA backs off notion of an injunction that would let Deshaun Watson play in Week One


Not long ago, some connected to the NFL Players Association were floating the notion that a lawsuit arising from a lengthy suspension imposed by the NFL on Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson could potentially result in Watson playing in Week One against the Panthers. Now, the NFLPA seems to have backed away from that argument.

The tide has turned on this as an option,” Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports tweeted on Monday afternoon. “Chances of arguing it successfully now appear extremely low. The first question will be why, if they wanted to be assured of a temporary restraining order, they wouldn’t have gone the extra step and cross-appealed.”

That’s one of the points we made over the weekend, in picking apart what would be a very flimsy argument. The union failed to appeal Judge Sue L. Robinson’s six-game suspension. The NFL’s appeal applies only to the failure to suspend him longer than six games. The first six games simply aren’t at issue as the case proceeds. Any lawsuit would be relevant to Week Seven, not Week One.

It’s a no brainer. Judge Robinson imposed a six-game suspension. The union didn’t appeal it. That portion of the case is over. Done. Finito. The only remaining question is whether the union can prevent a suspension of longer than six games.

There’s also a question as to the number of games that would prompt a court battle. If Peter Harvey suspends Watson for twelve games, would the union fight it in court?

What if Harvey suspends Watson for 12 games and fines him $10 million, taking the salary he earned last year while not playing. While some who should know better continue to insist that Watson’s failure to play in 2021 had nothing to do with his off-field situation, the simple truth is that, if he wasn’t dealing with civil cases and/or criminal investigations, he would have played in 2021 — for someone other than the Texans. The Dolphins, for example, were ready to trade for Watson if he settled the 22 lawsuits that were pending against him at the time. But for four holdouts, it would have happened. If there had been no lawsuits or criminal probes, he would have been traded, and he would have played.

So why not fine him the $10 million he made while not playing in 2021? There’s a logic to it, especially if he also will be suspended a dozen games in 2022. It also gives Harvey a chance to create the impression that he’s not doing exactly what the league wants him to do. Even if, ultimately, he is.

26 responses to “NFLPA backs off notion of an injunction that would let Deshaun Watson play in Week One

  1. 17 Game suspension and $45 Million in fines – that is a just punishment at this point for both him and the Browns with their heavily weighted contract. That way they both actually feel the pain.

  2. Watson better take whatever the NFL throws at him right now after the Browns back loaded his contract so if he got suspended right away he wouldn’t take that huge of a financial hit. If he drags this out it’s going to cost him huge money after the first year.

  3. He didn’t play in 2021 because he chose not to and the Texans chose to not deal him. He was not suspended, he was healthy and able to play. That was his choice.

  4. I wish the Browns would just release this guy. Pretty sad that they set up his contract to minimize the financial impact of any punishment he receives.

  5. Watson sat out 2021 because he demanded a trade and the Texans wouldn’t trade him.

    They couldn’t trade him because of the accusations, but he had every right to play. He was on the roster.

    Stop trying to spin that he was in trouble for the accusations. That’s not true and you know it

  6. Watson signed a 5 yr $230M contract (after it was well known what he had done to these women!), that’s roughly $2.7M/game. All weekend long at the NFL’s HoF induction celebration all the talk was about values (bunch of bull if Watson is allowed to get away with what he has so far). IF the NFL has ANY values Watson gets a 1 yrs suspension, $46M in penalties (17 games x $2.7M), can apply for reinstatement in 2023 under certain conditions that he must meet and shall remain on probation for a period of 5 yrs.

  7. madcapdawgfan says:
    August 8, 2022 at 8:47 pm
    I wish the Browns would just release this guy. Pretty sad that they set up his contract to minimize the financial impact of any punishment he receives.
    Why release him? The Browns are already having trouble signing players to fill out their roster. Who wants to play there?

  8. 12 games and $10 million still seems awfully light. Why is he still in the league? No remorse, all denial, it seems as if he feels, and the Browns for that matter feel as if he has done nothing wrong.

  9. The NFL and the Browns best remember this will not be forgotten quickly and will become prominent when they play on the road. Better keep him/them off national TV when they are.

  10. Browns play the Tom Brady’s week 11 and the Saints week 15, the way the NFL works, it will wind up being 12 games.

  11. The texans should have eaten his contract and forced him to sit until the end of it. not allow him to practice, etc, so no risk of injury responsibility on the team. let him sit, skills going to rot, then when his contract ended, he’s a UFA, with no skills for however many years.

  12. The fine should be his Average Annual Contract Value prorated by the number of games. That eliminates the 1st year contract benefit and only fines him for the games missed.

  13. That backloaded contract should be voided. It’s hard to believe that it was allowed.

  14. So, as an attorney, I’d like Mike to weigh in now about the union. They’d have had so much more room to negotiate had they appealed. This was a clear public relations decision and a TERRIBLE legal decision. They should have appealed and preserved all options. Legally, this is malpractice.

  15. Watson wasn’t suspended last season and no amount of talking in circles can magically make sitting out into a suspension. Yes, there’s a connection, yes, there’s a certain logic; but Watson was not suspended last season.

  16. The reason Watson camp won’t file for an injunction is simply because a much longer suspension is inevitable and the totality of his loss of earnings is tied directly to the suspension timetable. With the structure of his contract being the Browns rigging this first year for a basement salary in anticipating this precise moment, Watson surely won’t defer over a protracted court battle just to play this year, and the team certainly won’t want to deal with this massive distraction even longer. So, Watson will just eat it and serve 12+ games now solely to minimize his out of pocket….and once again, he will get rewarded in the end.

  17. Go ahead and keep dragging this out. If they start pulling game checks for next season when the big money kicks in he’s going to wish he had settled. By the way Watson settling out of court and having people sign non disclosure agreements is not “clearing your name” just so you know.

  18. a harsher penalty is most certainly warranted, i just wish people were equally as upset and calling for the heads of the owners that did worse thigns to more people– why, in the court of public opinion, is is okay to let snyder walk with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. If the public was at least equally outraged, the nfl would be forced to do more to snyder. Watson is the scapegoat so the nfl canm say , see we ARE tough on this stuff, when really theu are just shielding the owners from criticism- sad really

  19. When will folks who want to go back in time and change facts realize it is not possible. Watson should not be allowed to use him sitting out in 2021 as part of his suspension. Watson was not suspended in 2021 and that fact cannot be changed.

  20. Why would he play 1 game against a team that anyone can beat without a QB, only to lose a game in 2023 and millions more.

  21. How about not suspending DeeShawn at all in 2022 but to impose the sanctions in 2023? This way the NFL can say it won’t impact the 2022 season unfairly and then to allow the team to plan appropriately for 2023 while imposing a huge financial hit on DeeShawn?

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