Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is finished with his appeal to disciplinary officer Susan L. Robinson, but a ruling on an NFL suspension could be weeks away.
Represented by the NFL Players Association, Watson’s defense team argued its case in a three-day hearing this week. During their presentation to Robinson, a former federal judge, the NFLPA argued that Watson should not serve any suspension for more than two dozen accusations of sexual misconduct.
The NFL’s legal team presented its evidence against Watson, providing evidence and statements from accusers compiled during an investigation that lasted more than a year. In front of the disciplinary officer, the league argued for an indefinite suspension with Watson required to miss at least a year.
According to Dan Graziano of ESPN, Robinson informed both sides that she wants post-trial briefs submitted by the week of July 11. The briefs will then be reviewed, but she didn’t provide a timeline for when she will make a ruling.
- Deshaun Watson contract: $1.035 base salary (2022), $46 million base salary (2023-’26)
This is the first time the NFL has gone through this process. Under the latest NFL CBA, commissioner Roger Goodell no longer holds unilateral authority over discipline for violations of the league’s personal conduct policy.
In the new system, the NFL and NFLPA present their findings to a disciplinary officer in a hearing. If either side agrees with the ruling, it can then file an appeal. In the specific case of Watson, the NFL could appeal a decision for a shorter suspension and then leave it up to Goodell.
The NFL previously discussed a settlement with Watson’s representations, offering a one-year suspension. It was viewed as a non-starter, with the star quarterback proclaiming his innocence and a desire to avoid any discipline.
Both sides still expect Robinson to rule that a suspension is warranted, but the length of the ban could be anywhere from six games to a full calendar year. In the event Watson is suspended, Jacoby Brissett would become the Browns’ starting quarterback.