Why Browns’ Deshaun Watson may be willing to settle for eight-game suspension, seven-figure fine

Deshaun Watson was handed a six-game suspension by former federal judge Sue L. Robinson as part of the NFL investigation into his off-field conduct. It seems he’s offering to serve a slightly longer ban as the length of the suspension is likely to increase sharply on appeal.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that Watson would be willing to accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine if his camp can reach an agreement with the NFL.

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Why would Deshaun Watson be willing to agree to a longer suspension?

It’s about making sure he can play during the 2022 NFL season.

The length of Watson’s suspension is unclear. The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, with Commissioner Roger Goodell saying a longer ban was warranted based on the evidence uncovered at the investigation.

We’ve seen the evidence. [Robinson] was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence for this [were] multiple infractions here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior.

The appeal will be heard by former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Goodell and has extensive ties to the NFL. Perhaps that’s why Watson’s camp is now offering a comparison.

Would the NFL accept a settlement offer from Deshaun Watson?

The NFL has been vocal about its desire to ban Watson for at least a season. The AP reports that the league’s primary goal remains in the appeals process.

The league is demanding a minimum 17-game suspension, a substantial fine of over $5 million and wants Watson to undergo an evaluation and treatment determined by medical experts before he can be reinstated.

If Harvey rules in favor of the NFL and Watson is suspended for more than six weeks, it will be difficult for Watson and the NFL Players Association to fight back. The NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy states that anyone hearing the objection may “repeal, reduce, modify, or increase discipline previously issued, [and it] is final and binding on all parties.”

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Watson and the NFLPA could still take the NFL to federal court over Harvey’s ruling, but the policy’s language would make it difficult for a judge to overturn the decision.

Perhaps that’s why a comparison suddenly seems attractive to Watson’s side. It doesn’t want to risk Watson being suspended for a year.

On the other hand, an eight-game suspension may not be attractive for the NFL. ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported prior to Robinson’s decision that the NFL would not settle for fewer than 12 games and a roughly $8 million fine.

It’s unclear whether the NFL is in active settlement discussions with Watson’s camp, the AP reported. But if the league is, it’s hard to imagine they would be willing to accept Watson’s original offer.

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