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NFL insists on indefinite Deshaun Watson suspension during disciplinary hearing

Vincent Frank

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was on hand in Delaware Tuesday to take part in a disciplinary hearing with the NFL.

Watson’s attendance stems from the 24 women who have come forward to allege sexual misconduct/assault on the part of the Pro Bowl quarterback. It also comes shortly after he settled 20 of the 24 civil cases in court earlier this month.

In terms of the hearing itself, the Associated Press is reporting that the NFL is insisting on an indefinite suspension in its argument in front of arbitrator Sue Robinson.

“The NFL insisted on an indefinite suspension while Deshaun Watson’s legal team argued there’s no basis for that punishment as both sides presented their cases in front of a retired judge in Delaware on Tuesday, two people in attendance told The Associated Press.”

Rob Maaddi’s report on Deshaun Watson hearing

This comes after Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal reported over the weekend that the NFL is seeking an indefinite suspension that would last no shorter than a full calendar year. “League officials believe those allegations in particular are objectively provable and establish a clear and disturbing pattern of behavior from Watson,” Beaton noted.

Related: Deshaun Watson and NFL’s highest-paid QBs

Precedent for Deshaun Watson suspension

Deshaun Watson
Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks to the media after minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The term “precedent” has become part of the American lexicon in recent days. It could also potentially have an impact here.

Remember, two different grand juries in Texas opted against recommending criminal charges against Watson this past spring. Common sense would seem to indicate that the NFL has no standing to hand down such a lengthy suspension void of criminal charges being levied against Watson.

Even then, the league operates under its own justice system. A recent case study would be the six-game ban Dallas Cowboys star Ezekiel Elliott received back in 2017 after accusations of domestic violence were thrown in the running back’s direction. Despite no criminal charges being filed against Elliott, he was still suspended.

Potential Deshaun Watson suspension an impact on the Cleveland Browns

After acquiring Watson in a blockbuster trade with the Houston Texans during the spring, Cleveland signed Watson to a record-breaking extension.

Said deal included a base salary of $1.035 million for the 2022 season. Cleveland was obviously preparing for the possibility of a long-term suspension.

On the field, it’s a different story. Cleveland will soon have to trade last year’s starter Baker Mayfield who is being linked to the Seattle Seahawks. Outside of that, it has veteran journeyman Jacoby Brissett on the roster.

If Watson receives an indefinite suspension, it would not be a surprise to see Cleveland go after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in a trade. He’d be that stopgap option while Deshaun Watson is away from the team and has only one more season remaining on his current contract.

As for the hearing itself, things will continue on Wednesday with the expectation that it will last multiple days. From there, Sue Robinson will make her decision. If Watson receives an indefinite ban, he will have the right to appeal. Though, said appeals are rarely successful in this climate.