Last week, the Browns issued a strange statement in the aftermath of the decision from Judge Sue L. Robinson, who suspended quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games. The Browns, among other things, seemed to be trying to get the league to respect her ruling. For obvious reasons.
Now, with designee Peter Harvey considering the NFL’s appeal of the matter, Browns owner Jimmy Haslam is embracing a step that the team had hoped the league wouldn’t take.
“I’ll just say we’ll respect and honor the process,” Haslam said at the league meeting in Minnesota convened for the purpose of voting on the purchase of the Broncos, via Mark Maske of the Washington Post.
The Browns also were ready to “respect” Judge Robinson’s decision. The league, which embracing her factual findings, have disregarded her ultimate decision, believing the league believes it didn’t go far enough.
The Browns also insisted that Watson has shown remorse. Judge Robinson found that Watson has not.
There’s one sliver of overlap between management and labor in this case. The NFL Players Association and the Browns both want to minimize Watson’s absence. Remorse or no remorse, player and team want player back on the field.
Still, the Browns know that their broader interests require them to behave as one of the 32 member organizations of the NFL. They’ll “respect and honor” the appeal process. They’ll also likely dislike the outcome.
That said, there’s a silver lining for the Browns in the possibility of a full-season suspension. A 17-game ban would toll Watson’s contract for a full year, extending his commitment through 2027 and dropping his base salary in 2023 from $46 million to $1.035 million.