The disciplinary hearing between the NFL and NFLPA over Deshaun Watson concluded Thursday. With it over, the only thing left is Sue Robinson’s hearing, the first crucial domino to fall in order to determine Watson’s status for the 2022 season. According to multiple reports, the hearing wrapped up after three days.
The disciplinary hearing for #Browns QB Deshaun Watson has ended for the day, which means it has wrapped up after three days. The wait for Judge Sue Robinson’s ruling begins.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 30, 2022
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has discussed the case as much as anyone and tweeted apparently leaked information about the hearing. His tweets don’t paint a favorable view of the NFL successfully arguing his case.
Deshaun Watson hearing has ended. Some information, from a source with knowledge of the proceedings: (1) the NFL interviewed 12 alleged victims, and the hearing focused on five of the woman making allegations against Watson. . . .
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) June 30, 2022
The initial ruling is now in former US District Judge Sue Robinson’s hands. She has the freedom to suggest any punishment she wants, everything ranging from what the NFLPA wants (no discipline or a fine) to what the NFL is looking for (indefinite suspension, minimum one year). It’s more likely she chooses something in-between.
Any ruling she makes can be appealed. And so long as she doesn’t rule zero punishment, Roger Goodell has the authority to alter the decision. Hypothetically, if Robinson rules an eight-game suspension, Goodell has the ability to make it a full year.
Watson was civilly sued by 24 women over allegations of sexual harassment and assault during massage sessions. He’s settled all but four of those cases. Cleveland traded for Watson with those cases still spending, and more came out afterwards, all while giving Watson a fully guaranteed, $230 million deal. What happens with Watson will determine everything behind him. Where Baker Mayfield ends up and what kind of role Jacoby Brissett could have this season.
Pittsburgh plays the Browns in Week 3, a Thursday night primetime game, and the regular season finale in Week 18.