Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson agreed to an 11-game suspension and $5 million fine for off-field conduct violations related to “predatory” behavior involving more than two dozen women who alleged sexual assault and other inappropriate behavior.
ESPN reported Watson must sign the negotiated agreement to make it official.
Per multiple reports, Watson and the NFL settled on the punishment after the league appealed an initial six-game suspension that followed an investigation into the allegations.
Watson also agreed to enter a treatment program. He recently offered an apology “to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation” but previously had maintained that he had “no regrets” about his actions during massage sessions where the alleged wrongdoing took place.
The Browns acquired Watson via trade from the Houston Texans and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract in the offseason. Watson reached financial settlements with most of the women involved.
When the suspension ends, Watson would be eligible make his regular-season debut with the Browns in Week 13 at Houston in December. The Browns have a bye in Week 9.
Until then, Jacoby Brissett is slated to start for the Browns.
Former U.S. district Judge Sue L. Robinson, picked by the league and the NFL Players Association as an independent disciplinary officer, handed down a six-game suspension earlier this month. The NFL appealed Robinson’s decision, wanting Watson to be suspended for a full season. Former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey was chosen by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeal. Goodell said the “evidence” called for more than a six-game ban.
Two women filed criminal complaints against the then-Texans quarterback, and 25 leveled lawsuits against him. Watson did not play in 2021 amid the scandal and his desire to be traded.
One woman dropped her lawsuit, and the quarterback has settled, or come to terms on settlements, with all but one of the others.
“Each and every snap, I want to make sure I cherish that because I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be able to get out there with those guys,” Watson said Friday after playing for the first time with the Browns in a preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns with 36 interceptions. He led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020. He also has rushed for 1,677 yards and 17 scores in his career, and he owns a 28-25 regular-season record as a starter.
In three postseason games, following the 2018 and 2019 seasons, he went 1-2 while completing 80 of 126 passes for 870 yards and four touchdowns with one interception.
In the Browns’ 24-13 victory over the Jaguars on Friday, Watson completed just one of his five pass attempts for 7 yards.
–Field Level Media