For NFL, Deshaun Watson’s settlement proposal is surely too little, too late


With appeals officer Peter Harvey quite possibly poised to impose a lengthy suspension on Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson as soon as Friday, Watson’s camp has floated the notion of Watson accepting an eight-game suspension, along with a $5 million fine.

The league has yet to offer any indication as to its position regarding Watson’s reported proposal. Our guess is that the league regards it to be far too little, and far too late.

In the current posture, the NFL is at the end of the road, with Harvey eight days into an appeal process that, by rule, must be expedited. It’s entirely possible that Harvey is putting the finishing touches on a written ruling that will suspend Watson for at least one full season, effective tomorrow. Watson’s sudden willingness to make a significant proposal comes at a time when it’s increasingly obvious that Harvey will be doing what Commissioner Roger Goodell wants — dropping the hammer on Watson.

The league can’t turn back now, not after the Commissioner used words like “egregious” and “predatory” when discussing Watson two days ago. A negotiated compromise that would result in Watson missing only two more games than Judge Sue L. Robinson imposed likely won’t fly in the court of public opinion. Thus, it won’t fly with the league.

Besides, at some point this isn’t about Deshaun Watson. It’s about the next Deshaun Watson. It’s about sending a clear message to any player accused of wrongdoing in the future that it’s always better to take your reckoning as early as possible, avoiding months of bad press and countless hours of work to prove something that the player should have just admitted to having done.

It’s also about the NFL fully exercising the power that it continues to possess under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.

Watson could have settled the Ashley Solis claim for payment in the range of $75,000, before the first suit was filed. Instead, Watson’s camp stonewalled attorney Tony Buzbee, and in so doing pissed him off. One lawsuit became 24 became repeated P.R. body blows and millions of dollars in settlements and legal fees. It hurt the league, too. The endless Watson stories damaged The Shield, indirectly. And if Watson had simply owned up to his misconduct instead of constantly doubling down, this would have ended for both him and the league before it ever even started.

Instead, Watson categorically denied wrongdoing. Judge Robinson necessarily found that Watson lied to the league’s investigators. One of his representatives crowed about Watson’s innocence to Adam Schefter of ESPN after a grand jury decided in March not to indict Watson, which only made things worse when Schefter tweeted that Watson welcomed a criminal investigation because he knew “the truth would come out.” Last Thursday, Buzbee called out Schefter during a press conference for his effort to carry Watson’s water after the grand jury opted not to file criminal charges, saying that “this kind of foolishness is exactly why people do not pursue justice.”

Although Buzbee’s tactics have at times been cartoonish, he’s right. The truth didn’t come out when prosecutors opted not to aggressively  pursue a fight that, under the very high standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, they likely would have lost. Judge Robinson, hired jointly by the league and the union, made a ruling as to the truth, as far as the NFL is concerned. Four instances of non-violent sexual assault. “Egregious” misconduct. “Predatory behavior.” Untruthful denials. A total lack of remorse.

Sorry, Deshaun, but the time for having a true reckoning has long since expired. This is nothing more than a Hail Mary aimed at avoiding the punishment that the league has every right to impose. And it will definitely be a lot more than eight games and $5 million.

54 responses to “For NFL, Deshaun Watson’s settlement proposal is surely too little, too late

  1. This whole thing is a nightmare for the league. If I were them, I’d take them up on eight games but bump the fine to at least double that. Money is where you really make these guys feel the pain.

  2. This reminds me of when Saddam Hussein was captured by American troops and he said he was willing to negotiate.

  3. How much has DW has cost the league? Lawsuits and bad image. And why hasnt the NFLPA put together their own suspension program for detrimental behavior? Why cant the company who pays him fire him?

    Questions that we all have.

  4. This type of last minute offer is like when a defendant offers to plea to a misdemeanor when he knows the jury is about to convict on felony charges. One can only wonder if the initial mishandling of this case was born out of poor legal advice or poor client control. Either way, in spite of all of his many boorish encroachments, the only person that Watson ended up screwing was himself.

  5. 10 games and 10 million. Just kidding, he’s out for another season. How he manages to come back after a two year layoff and play at a high level is going to be difficult I’d think. But hey, he’s rich thanks to the “extensive” investigation by the Browns…

  6. Watson had an opportunity to settle this, and get his football career, and his life, back on track while he was still a Texan. He chose to deny, deny, deny, and then spin it every which way until he couldn’t make it all go away. Now he’s at the mercy of the league, and now he and his camp are trying to make a deal? Too little too late is the understatement of the year

  7. Finally Florio got it. “It’s about the next Deshaun Watson”. Many times recently, and Mike Florio has done a great job on this going back 1.5 yrs ago, Florio has said the Judge laid out a road map for the NFL. She pointed to Watson’s guilt based on evidence (and only saw 4 cases), that he lied, showed no remorse but was in effect bound by NFL precedent on matters. Well, if that’s true, how do you correct bad precedent, and how bad do things truly have to get to truly punish someone for “predatory” and “egregious” behavior?! The hammer needs to come down so hard that the next time something like this happens, some team doesn’t hand out a quarter billion!!!, 100% guaranteed to someone similar likely thinking any suspension will be a few games. They need to KNOW it will be at least one season and maybe a few or even out of the league altogether. If there had been proper precedent, we wouldn’t be rewarding serial egregious sexual predators with a quarter billion. It’s insane! For the next Deshaun Watson, please get this correct NFL> Set the precedent properly this time.

  8. I have a feeling Mr Watson used one of his old lines on Roger. ‘You take what I’m offering you or you’ll never work in this town again’. Truth is Watson isn’t very bright and the more he talks the longer he’ll not see the field.

  9. Watson is a lowlife and I for one will root against him on every down he plays. The Cleveland Browns are rotten to the core and deserve every bit of backlash they receive. I hope they lose every game they play.

  10. Watson is a scumbag and I for one will root against him on every down he plays. The Cleveland Browns are rotten to the core and deserve every bit of backlash they receive. I hope they lose every game they play.

  11. He will be lucky in only getting a year suspension plus a hefty $20 million fine to be donated to sexually/domestically abused women shelters

  12. Hope the retired judge gives watson a year suspension, to be served in 2023, and a $50m fine 🙂

    I can hope, can’t i?

  13. He seen the writing on the wall and tried to bargain. That’s a whole bunch of time out of the league. I feel for you Brownies, I’m a Lions fan, you said there’s a proven star quarterback out there and were not asking him to take out daughter out on a date, we want him to win football games. If he’s out all year again, with that gauranteed money and big piece of the salary cap, has to feel like Justin Tucker kicking a 66 yard field goal the last second to steal the win…

  14. 2 full seasons missed
    2 surgically repaired ACL’s
    2 dollars in the bank
    2 cents worth of ethics

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you DeShaun Watson, v. 2023.

  15. The settlement offer seems to be indicative of Watson’s continued beliefe that in his mind, he did nothing wrong. The offer is an embarrassment and Harding should know better than to have even offered.
    The next question has to turn to, so when does he do it again? Because if you believe Watson has learned some lesson and will forever refrain from sexual assault shenanigans…

  16. Nah, not enough. Keep him out for the year – take HALF his average annual salary for the 5 year contract (230 / 5 = 46. 46 / 2 = 23). 23 million – can’t, cough, have him starve. The fine goes directly to whatever is the most worthy organization supporting battered / abused ladies. NFL can match that “donation” to show it cares – Watson is their employee and they certainly could have handled this better.

    I know…too harsh, but 5 million doesn’t “hurt” – sure, it’s a TON of money to the average Joe – but it’s basically a 10th of what he will make in a year. Average Joe making, say 50k a year would be fined at least 10k for this (face average Joe is in PRISON for this).

  17. Prediction – watson, after missing 2 full seasons plus, has played his last NFL game. Cleveland will trade for Jimmy G next week

  18. It’s gotta be a year minimum. No other option should be considered. I care nothing about last season, he brought this on himself. He should be grateful It’s only a year.

  19. Thanks to Florio for not floating the Watson camp’s offer as a satisfactory solution like other media outlets.The fact that Cleveland thinks its smart to say he’ll play Friday proves their Management and owners are completely tone-deaf. Does the NFL want to deal with protests outside the stadium tomorrow, or all season long? Watson deserves every bit of a full season suspension. As a lifelong NFL fan, I think that is the bare minimum I can tolerate.

  20. Everyone knows what happened. If he came near a woman you know and care about, you know how you would react. And even if he gets suspended for a year, he got away with it for practical purposes. I feel bad for Browns fans.

  21. At the end of the day, it’s Watson and his team of advisors/lawyers that screwed the pooch here. I’m not really sure why Watson is paying these guys!

  22. full season with a review after the season for reintstatement and 100 million dollar fine sounds about right.

  23. Is it too late to ask why no one investigated McNair’s and Buzbee’s colluding in order to punish Watson for not signing a contract after the 2020 season ended?

  24. No. The league should offer a counteroffer. Watson’s failure to negotiate should not be repated by the NFL. They should do now what he should have done then…make a good faith counteroffer. 14 games and 10 million (or something less than sixteen games at least). Get a win and keep from being dragged into Federal court.

  25. And if anyone thinks the NFL being the clowns they are, would have accepted that? I have some swampland in Florida to sell you.

    Here’s a better idea, how bout no suspension and no fine. Just like Robert Kraft, Jerry Jones, and Daniel Snyder who have done 100% worse things.

  26. Watson has denied any responsibility and been cheap every step of the way. Its like he’s made up in his mind that this ‘strategy’ for sexual outlet is perfectly acceptable in the eyes of society and he’s justified for his lack of remorse.

    The true missing element here is not a fine or games misssed: its rehabilitation. He needs to spend his time away from the game learnng about WHY his behavior is not acceptsble and worki to correct it. I expect a ciunseling order in addition to to a longer suspension.

  27. Let remember not 1 but 2 grand jury laughed off all charges and didn’t even find 1 count to even indict on. Yet it’s all year say. Deshaun will have a field day in court over this soon enough.

  28. The way Goodell and the league has handled this, is a joke. Watson should be in jail and on trial.

  29. This guy is something else. Just suspend him the whole year and let him apply for reinstatement next year

  30. I am so sick about hearing about Deshaun Watson..he went 4-12 his last year he played ..while being investigated for these horrendous acts he demanded a trade and wouls only be traded to other teams..I feel bad for the Cleveland Browns fans who have a terrible owner who engineered this trade which ruined this season and acquired a player who is impossible to root for

  31. The NFL and NFLPA have to be having settlement discussions. It’s the only possible explanation as to why it’s taken 10 days for the NFL’s rubber stamp guy to read the judge’s opinion and jack the suspension up to whatever Roger wants.

  32. Let’s hope this serves as much as a lesson for Browns ownership as it does for Watson. Their blind eye to the fallout from this sordid affair shows there is tone deaf ownership in Cleveland. Watson should count his blessings if he’s back on the field in 2023.

  33. Wait…

    Wait ……..

    Wait for it……..



    That is the hammer dropping on Watson

    and the Browns

  34. Not too late if the league office will stand tall and do the right thing. Time you put up or shut up.

  35. Joke of the day;

    The Browns traded for this guy, AND made him the richest QB in NFL history.

  36. The punishment should be a lifetime suspension. Cleveland should be forced to forfeit the entirety of his contract to sexual abuse victims programs and groups.

  37. Here’s a scenario I hadn’t considered but Cleveland should. Cleveland has a solid team, but will win nothing with Brissett this year. Now assume they get Jimmy G and that solid team makes the playoffs, wins a couple of games. Next year they gotta go back to the sexual predator with 2+ years out of football and jettison Jimmy? For this reason alone I think they need to stick with Brisett and tank the year, they can’t handle another QB showing they messed up with Watson’s contract. Nothing will reinforce their plan better than the contrast of Watson and Brisett.

  38. fanofreason says:
    August 12, 2022 at 7:25 am
    Let remember not 1 but 2 grand jury laughed off all charges and didn’t even find 1 count to even indict on. Yet it’s all year say. Deshaun will have a field day in court over this soon enough.

    No, No, No, No, No. Nobody “laughed off” any charges. The Grand Jury simply decided it would be difficult to get a conviction based on the burden of proof required in a criminal case. He said/she said doesn’t hold up without witnesses or other evidence and I’m sure Watson lied through his teeth as he has all along. He also invoked the fifth amendment during initial depositions. In other words he played the legal system as much as he could.
    To be honest, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning, thinking this might be a money grab. We now know that the accusations are true, even some of the girls that defended Watson acknowledged he would get excited and that “things happened”. So after all the lying and posturing and the complete lack of remorse, I’m done with him. Suspend him for at least a year and fine him hard. This guy needs to learn the world doesn’t revolve around him, there is accountability and consequence for bad actions. Wouldn’t bother me if he never played in the NFL again.

  39. Exempt list this year so he can go through mandatory counseling, and the Browns have to pay him his million anyway. Suspend him for the 2023 season, and he won’t get paid his ridiculous salary while he stews for a year. He will have plenty of time for massages then.

  40. I wonder what would happen if the Brown’s start Watson tonight, and in his first series, he gets his leg blown out?

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