According to multiple reports on Monday morning, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson has ruled that Cleveland quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended for six games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. In June, Watson settled 20 of 24 civil lawsuits he was facing from women alleging sexual assault or misconduct.
Watson, who allegedly engaged in this conduct while playing for Houston from March 2020 to March 2021, sat out last season while the Texans waited out the process until NFL teams became comfortable enough to make a trade for the league’s 2020 leader in passing yards. The Texans reached settlements with 30 women who made claims against the organization for its role in allegations against the former national title win at Clemson.
Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee told ESPN that Watson settled three of the four remaining civil cases this morning, including the one from Ashley Solis, who was the first woman to sue him.
Multiple reports indicate that Robinson’s ruling does not include a fine for Watson. In addition, the NFL Players Association released a statement Sunday night that it will “stand by” the ruling from Robinson. Whether the league will appeal remains to be seen, but it will have three days to file such paperwork.
Watson’s alleged conduct took place during dozens of private massage therapy sessions, many of which he booked by reaching out to massage therapists throughout the Houston area via direct messages on Instagram. Nearly all of the women who filed cases against Watson described a similar pattern in his alleged behavior.
Earlier this year, two different grand juries in Texas declined to press criminal charges against Watson. At that point, trade talks heated up with New Orleans, Atlanta and Cleveland reportedly showing the most interest in brokering a deal.
In March, the Browns agreed on a trade to send Houston three first-round draft picks for Watson. Then they signed him to the richest deal in NFL history, a five-year contract worth $230 million that’s fully guaranteed.
If the six-game suspension stands, Watson will miss the following games for the Browns: at Carolina, vs. the New York Jets, vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday), at Atlanta, vs. the Los Angeles Chargers and vs. New England. Cleveland traded former starting QB Baker Mayfield to Carolina earlier this month, so veteran Jacoby Brissett will be the likely starter in those six contests.
Watson will miss out on $345,000 of game checks during the suspension. The 26-year-old QB had a pristine image before these allegations surfaced, but it’s unclear if that played any role in the suspension.
Multiple reports last month indicated that the suspension would likely be for an entire season. Comparing that expectation to six games will likely lead to outrage from some factions of the media.
When Watson last played in 2020 for the Texans, he completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 4,823 yards with a 33/7 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He also ran for 444 yards and three TDs with a 4.9 yards-per-carry average.
In 54 career games across four seasons, Watson has 67.8 completion percentage, 14,539 career passing yards and a 104/36 TD-INT ratio. He has 1,677 career rushing yards, 17 TDs and a 5.5 YPC average.
DraftKings has Cleveland’s season win total set at 9.5 flat (-110 either way). This number was previously off the board. The Browns’ odds to make the playoffs at DraftKings are -110 for both ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ They have +230 odds to win the AFC North at DraftKings, which has Baltimore as the +165 ‘chalk.’ The Bengals have +210 odds and the Steelers are at 10/1.
Cleveland has 25/1 odds to win the Super Bowl. Some books previously had the Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl in the 30/1 neighborhood, while other books had them off the board.
Cleveland is a one-point favorite at Carolina in its season opener.