You're tired of hearing about Deshaun Watson, we're tired of talking about him, and you can be sure that the Cleveland Browns are experiencing Deshaun Watson fatigue. And reports are that we could have been done with this whole affair, but Watson is the one who has kept it going.
According to reports from ESPN, in the days leading up to former judge Sue Robinson's recommendation for a six-game suspension, the NFL and Watson were working on a settlement. The final NFL offer was a 12-game suspension and a fine between $8 and $10 million.
Watson, however, said no. He decided to take his chance on Robinson's verdict, which did come down in his favor. But of course, her decision is not final, and it may be that the final NFL offer would have been a better way to go when it's all said and done.
Watson's Fate in New Judge's Hands
This entire process, getting tested for the first time since it was agreed upon in the latest collection bargaining agreement, is a little confusing. The NFL and NFLPA agreed on an independent third party to hear the case, which was Robinson.
The NFL, however, does have the right to appeal that decision, which they have. So now the case will be heard by… an independent third party.
Didn't we just do that?
Commissioner Roger Goodell had the power to hear the appeal himself or appoint anyone else in the NFL office to hear the appeal. The appeal by the NFL is being heard and decided upon by the NFL.
Instead, he's appointed the former Attorney General of New Jersey, Peter C. Harvey, who heard the appeal of Ezekiel Elliott's six-game suspension in 2017. In that case, he upheld the suspension, which was eventually served in full.
Harvey currently serves on the NFL's Diversity Advisory Committee.
According to the NFL, Harvey will be deciding if Judge Robinson's recommendation "should be modified to include a professional evaluation and treatment as determined by medical experts, an appropriate fine, and a longer suspension."
How Long Could the Suspension Get?
It is possible that Harvey could decide that a six-game suspension is enough. But considering that he was appointed specifically by Goodell, and he has a working relationship as a consultant for the NFL, it's unlikely that he will side with Watson over the league.
According to reports, the league has been very clear about its desire for a full-year suspension or an indefinite suspension that requires Watson to apply for reinstatement in a year. They also want Watson to complete treatment and face a significant fine.
The fact that the NFL was willing to lower their desired suspension to 12 games is not a coincidence. The Browns' 12th game this season is at the Texans, and the NFL absolutely does not want him playing against his old team and in the city where these allegations took place.
Don't be surprised if Watson's camp renews the talks of a settlement, now that it seems highly unlikely that the six-game suspension will stand. And don't be surprised if the NFL once again offers 12 games because they very much would like this to go away and for the focus of the NFL to return to playing football.
If, however, there is no settlement and the suspension imposed by Harvey extends beyond 12 games and up to a year, look for Watson's attorneys, with the support of the NFLPA, to file a federal lawsuit.
While the lawsuit is unlikely to succeed, it will delay the suspension, and that is something the NFL and the Browns don't want to see.