The Cleveland Browns may soon have clarity on Deshaun Watson’s status for the 2022 season. Watson’s NFL disciplinary hearing is scheduled to begin Tuesday, according to ESPN and confirmed by CBS Sports NFL insider Jonathan Jones. Sue L. Robinson, Disciplinary Officer jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, will conduct the hearing. Following Robinson’s decision, the NFL and NFLPA have the opportunity to appeal. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell can either rule on the appeal or appoint an independent officer.
The NFL would push for a “long” suspension of Watson, who had already faced 24 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct during massage sessions during his time with the Houston Texans. Watson opted for 20 of these suits. Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not indicted on criminal charges by two Texas grand juries earlier this offseason.
During Watson’s introductory press conference in Cleveland, Browns general manager Andrew Berry answered questions about a possible suspension involving his new quarterback. Berry said the team has and will continue to have open communication with the NFL. Berry added that Watson’s salary – which includes a base salary of $1 million for the 2022 season – is not intended to protect the team from possible suspension, but to give him flexibility to go. forward. The Browns signed Watson to a five-year, fully guaranteed, $230 million contract after his acquisition.
The Browns have several options in place in the event Watson is suspended. The team signed veterans Jacoby Brissett and Joshua Dobbs this offseason. Cleveland also still has Baker Mayfield, who remains under contract despite a public trade request.
If suspended, the league would likely determine that Watson violated the league’s code of conduct. The NFL introduced the policy in 2007 in an effort to improve player behavior off the field. One of the more notable suspensions involved current Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott. Elliott served a six-game suspension in 2017 despite the fact that the NFL’s lead investigator in the case reportedly recommended that no suspension take place. With Elliott sidelined, the Cowboys missed the playoffs a year after going 13-3.
If Watson is suspended for the first six games, he will miss road games at Carolina and Atlanta and home games against the Jets, Steelers, Chargers and Patriots. His first game back would be against the Ravens in Baltimore in Week 7. His first home game as the Browns’ quarterback would be the following weekend against the defending AFC champion, the Bengals of Cincinnati.