There is a very good chance that the NFL will take early action against Deshaun Watson, and not wait until the over 20 civil complaints against him come to a resolution.
With the dust settled on where former Houston Texans star quarterback Watson will play in 2022, the next question in the ongoing saga of his career is when will he suit up for his new team the Cleveland Browns? With over 20 complaints alleging sexual assault currently against him, the assumption is that he will face some sort of penalty from the league. Most likely a suspension.
- Deshaun Watson contract: 5 years, $230 million, $45 mil signing bonus
The suspension will be based on his violation of the CBA’s player code of conduct, and the expectation has been that a punishment from the league would come once those various civil complaints are resolved in court. However, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk suggested on Tuesday that the league may take action before then.
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The NFL insider believes that the league may make use of the “Commissioner exempt list.” And slap on the 26-year-old a label similar to that of being on “paid leave.”
“The league has made the Personal Conduct Policy more than broad enough to permit paid leave, even in the absence of criminal charges,” Florio explained. “‘When an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that a player may have violated this Policy by committing any of the conduct identified above, he may act where the circumstances and evidence warrant doing so. This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that would apply in a criminal trial,'” he quoted the policy as stating.
The NFL takes a similar stance as the MLB to deal with a wave of assault allegations in the league
This all may seem familiar to sports fans. That’s because Los Angeles Dodgers All-Star pitcher Trevor Bauer was placed on leave last summer after a San Diego woman accused him of sexual assault. As an investigation on the allegations played out, Bauer was put on administrative leave and did not compete for the Dodgers the rest of the season.
In February, the pitcher was cleared of any criminal charges by a grand jury, however, his leave was extended into April as the active civil case continues to play out. There is a hearing on the matter set for April 4.
The league is in the midst of sexual assault allegations damage control as they not only try to take a strong stance against what the talented QB has allegedly done but also investigate a string of incidents within the Washington Commanders organization that dates back more than a decade, and reaches as high as team owner Daniel Snyder.
In February, the league hired former U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White to take a deep dive into a new round of allegations against the organization and its owner.