A decision on discipline is coming Monday for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshan Watson following allegations of sexual misconduct.
Two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that retired Judge Sue L. Robinson has informed the NFL and the NFL Players Association that she is ready to issue a decision on Watson’s disciplinary hearing that ended a month ago. He spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the discussions are private.
Watson was charged with sexual assault and assault by 24 massage therapists in Texas and has settled 20 civil lawsuits filed against her. Four trials are pending and lawyers representing the women have said they hope to take them to trial sometime next spring.
Two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints stemming from the charges.
Watson, who played four seasons with Houston before being traded to Cleveland in March, has been practicing with the Browns, while Robinson has spent weeks trying to determine whether the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy. violated and whether discipline is to be enforced.
The NFL argued for an indefinite suspension of at least one year during a three-day hearing in Delaware last month. The league also wants to fine Watson $5 million, according to a person familiar with the discussions. Union insisted on no punishment, though a person familiar with Watson’s defense told the AP in June that a suspension is expected and the goal is to play Watson this season.
Negotiations did not proceed.
Watson took most of the first-team reps during the first four days of camp with Cleveland’s opening offense.
The 26-year-old QB practiced for the first time in front of Browns fans on Saturday after signing a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract with the team in March. He stopped after practice to sign autographs and pose for photographs with fans. He also signed and gave away his cleats after losing a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to a young fan.
Cleveland traded three first-round draft picks to Houston for Watson, a player the team believes could make it a Super Bowl contender.
If Watson is suspended, coach Kevin Stefanski reiterated last week that backup Jacobi Brissette would be the team’s starter. The Browns recently signed veteran Josh Rosen as more insurance and Josh Dobbs is also on the roster.
Watson has not yet spoken to reporters during the camp, possibly waiting until his case is resolved.
“I know there is uncertainty, but we can only control what we can control,” Stefansky said. “I think that’s a great job he’s done. When it comes to football what we’re doing is a lot of football, so there’s a lot of meetings, a lot of establishment and a lot of It takes workouts, rehearsals, and practice. He has really put himself into it.”
If Robinson, who was appointed jointly by the league and the players’ union, serves a sentence, either side may appeal. In that case, in accordance with the terms of Article 46 in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his nominee “will issue a written decision that constitutes a full, final and complete settlement of the dispute.”
AP Sportswriter Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter and his work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/robmaaddi.
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