Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson now knows when he’ll be able to take the field for his team in a regular-season game.
In an announcement that has been expected for some time now, arbitrator Sue L. Robinson handed down a six-game suspension to Watson stemming from the north of 20 women who have alleged sexual misconduct on the part of the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
The official word comes from Ian Rapoport and several others. Watson was found to be in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The NFL now has three days to file an appeal, if they choose to do so.
In addition to the suspension, Robinson’s decision restricts Watson to only receive massages from therapists on the Browns’ staff. Robinson stated Watson’s pattern of behavior was “egregious” while noting the behavior was “nonviolent sexual conduct“.
It was just Sunday evening that reports surfaced a final determination would be made by the former Delaware federal judge in this new arbitration process pitting NFL players against the league over potential discipline.
With Watson now suspended six games, Jacoby Brissett will take over as Cleveland’s starting quarterback on a stopgap basis. There’s also a chance that general manager Andrew Berry and Co. kick the tires on an outside option such as San Francisco 49ers veteran Jimmy Garoppolo. It also remains to be seen whether either side will file an appeal. Though, the NFLPA pretty much announced Sunday evening that it would stand by Robinson’s ruling.
The on-field impact of Watson’s suspension is by now well known. Cleveland exhausted three first-round picks and change to acquire the former first-round pick from the Houston Texans during the spring. It then signed him to a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
- Deshaun Watson stats (2020): 67% completion, 4,823 passing yards (league high), 444 rushing yards, 36 total TD, 7 INT, 112.4 QB rating
Having sat out the entire 2021 season due to both his trade request from the Texans and these accusations, the 26-year-old Watson will now have to wait a while longer to take to the field.
Deshaun Watson suspension: A timeline
Now that all of this has come to a head, it’s time to check in on the timeline surrounding this Watson off-field scandal. It’s been nearly 18 months in the making with twists and turns at nearly every stop.
- January 28, 2021: Deshaun Watson officially requests a trade from the Houston Texans less than six months after signing a four-year, $156 million extension with the team. Watson reportedly grew frustrated over the direction of the organization.
- January 29, 2021: Texans general manager Nick Caserio says the team has “zero interest” in trading Watson, setting the stage for a prolonged battle between the two sides.
- February 27, 2021: Reports break that Watson is willing to sit out multiple games during the 2021 season as a way to force a trade from the Texans.
- March 16, 2021: Sexual misconduct allegations surface against Watson with one woman initially coming forward. The accusation included a civil suit against the then-Texans starter.
- March 17, 2021: The Texans respond to allegations against Watson, saying that they “take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans’ organization seriously.”
- March 18, 2021: A third lawsuit pops up against Watson claiming sexual misconduct/assault.
- March 18, 2021: NFL opens investigation into allegations against Deshaun Watson with special council Lisa Friel leading the charge.
- March 19, 2021: Watson now faces misconduct allegations from 12 women who have filed lawsuits against the former Clemson star.
- March 22, 2021: Four more lawsuits pop up against Watson with one accusation of sexual assault earlier in March.
- March 28, 2021: Watson now facing lawsuits for alleged sexual assault/misconduct from 20 women.
- April 3, 2021: Houston Police Department opens up criminal investigation into allegations against Watson.
- April 13, 2021: One accuser drops civil case against Watson while another women accuses the quarterback of misconduct in civil court.
- July 25, 2021: Watson reports to Texans training camp in order to avoid a fine. He keeps his trade request alive.
- July 26, 2021: Deshaun Watson facing 10 criminal complaints and two more allegations in civil court.
- August 17, 2021: The attorney for those accusing Watson, Tony Buzbee, indicates that the FBI has met with him over the allegations.
- August 30, 2021: Houston Texans decide to keep Watson on their 53-man roster. Plan is to keep him inactive each week (Watson did not play a single snap in 2021).
- October 27, 2021: NFL announces that its investigation into Watson allegations is now ongoing.
- November 2, 2021: NFL trade deadline passes without Watson being traded despite the Miami Dolphins offering up three first-round picks to Houston.
- December 16, 2021: Search warrants obtained for Watson’s social media accounts amid criminal investigation into the quarterback.
- March 8, 2022: Watson’s case officially goes to a Texas grand jury to see if there’s enough evidence to charge him criminally. Quarterback to plead the fifth in civil cases.
- March 11, 2022: Grand jury in Texas opts against recommending criminal charges against Watson.
- March 18, 2022: Deshaun Watson traded to the Cleveland Browns for three first-round picks and change. Watson ultimately inks record-breaking five-year, $230 million contract — fully guaranteed.
- March 20, 2022: Browns release statement after acquiring Watson, claim that they ran a thorough investigation. Attorney for Watson accusers claims that the Browns did not reach out to him.
- March 24, 2022: Second grand jury in Texas opts against recommending criminal charges against Mr. Watson.
- May 16, 2022: NFL officials meet with Watson as part of its investigation under the guise of the personal conduct policy.
- May 17, 2022: Watson admits in deposition that one of his accusers left a massage appointment in tears.
- May 24, 2022: Watson accusers speak out while alleging disturbing conduct on the part of the quarterback. Read here for the NSFW text.
- May 31, 2022: Another women accuses Watson of sexual misconduct, bringing the case total to 23.
- June 6, 2022: Accuser total up to 24 as yet another women comes forward by suing Watson for sexual misconduct.
- June 8, 2022: Houston Texans named as co-defendant in Watson civil cases, bringing an NFL team directly into the mix.
- June 13, 2022: Watson facing two more allegations of sexual misconduct, bringing the total to 26.
- June 21, 2022: Watson reaches settlement in 20 of the 24 lawsuits against the new Cleveland Browns quarterback.
- June 25, 2022: NFL now pushing for indefinite Deshaun Watson suspension, lasting at least a calendar year.
- June 28, 2022: The first day of a three-day disciplinary hearing between the NFL and Watson begins. Former federal judge Sue L. Robinson oversees the hearing.
- July 15, 2022: Houston Texans settle with all 30 Deshaun Watson accusers. That includes those who had not sued him in civil court.
- July 31, 2022: Reports break that a decision will be made on a Watson suspension Monday. Quarterback settles three of four remaining civil cases.
- August 1, 2022: Watson suspended six games by arbitrator in the disciplinary hearing. Eligible to return in Week 7, pending an appeal by either the NFLPA or the league.