Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson suspended 6 games for violating the NFL Personal Conduct Policy

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has been given a six-game suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct, disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson said Monday, a source told ESPN’s Adam Shifter.

The source told Shifter that Watson would not be fined.

Robinson’s comprehensive 15-page conclusion stated that despite Watson’s violation of the personal behavior policy, there was not enough evidence to justify the indefinite suspension, a source told ESPN Jeremy Fowler.

The players’ union, in a statement Sunday night, said it would “comply” with Robinson’s decision and urged the NFL to do the same.

Either side will have three days to file a written appeal. In that event, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee will issue a “written resolution that constitutes a complete, final and complete resolution of the dispute,” subject to the terms of Section 46 of the Anti-Corruption Act.

Watson is accused of sexual assault and indecent behavior during massage sessions in civil lawsuits brought by 25 women. The encounters mentioned in the lawsuits took place between March 2020 and March 2021, while Watson was a member of the Houston Texans. One of the 25 cases was dropped after a judge ruled in April 2021 that the plaintiffs must amend their petitions to reveal their names. In June, Watson settled 20 of the 24 lawsuits he was facing; On Monday, he agreed to settle three of the remaining four, according to Houston attorney Tony Busby, who represents the women suing Watson.

Last month, Texas reached settlements with 30 women who have made allegations or were willing to file lawsuits against the organization for its alleged role in the allegations against Watson.

Robinson heard arguments from the association, the union and Watson’s attorney during a three-day hearing held in her home state of Delaware in late June. The NFL has been lobbying for the suspension for at least a year, while the NFL Players Association and Watson’s attorney have argued that the quarterback should not be suspended at all. The two sides discussed a possible settlement until the end of the hearing, but did not agree on a deal.

In the days leading up to Robinson’s decision, Union and Watson were engaged in further settlement talks, sources told ESPN’s Dan Graziano, but neither side felt close to a deal. Most of the aspect of Watson that indicated his willingness to provide was suspension in the six to eight game range, according to sources. The sources said that the best that the league indicated it was willing to offer was a 12-match suspension and a hefty fine – in the region of eight million dollars.

If his suspension is upheld, Watson will still be able to participate in practice during pre-season. It will also allow him to return to Brown to train during the second half of the suspension, in week four, according to the CBA. But he will not be allowed to be with the team during the first half of the suspension.

Although two grand juries in Texas declined to pursue criminal charges against Watson earlier this year, the NFL is investigating whether he violated the personal conduct policy since last year. The NFL interviewed Watson over several days earlier this summer. The association’s investigators also spoke to several of the women.

Watson has consistently denied wrongdoing and said he has no regrets about any of his actions during the massages. Watson also said he cooperated with the NFL investigation and “honestly answered every question” asked by league investigators.

The Browns traded for Watson in March, sending three first-round picks to Texas. Then Cleveland gave Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million fully guaranteed, the richest deal in NFL history for any player.

Browns coach Kevin Stefanski said at the start of training camp last week that Jacoby Brissett would become the Cleveland player if Watson was suspended. During the first week of camp, Watson took the majority of the shots with the first-team attack, but Stefanski indicated that Brown “might adjust” their plan in the wake of Robinson’s rule.

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