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Deshaun Watson suspension news: Why NFL's appeal of six-game ban has yet to be resolved

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2022-08-18 Jacob Camenker
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The NFL's appeal of Deshaun Watson's six-game suspension is supposed to be "processed on an expedited basis" by the rule of the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

However, two weeks after the NFL announced its appeal, it remains unresolved. As a result, Browns fans have one major question as the 2022 NFL season draws nearer: 

When will NFL designee Peter C. Harvey make a ruling in Watson's case?

No timetable was announced for Harvey's decision when he was hand-picked by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to hear the appeal. The former New Jersey Attorney General has strong ties to the league, so it was expected that his ruling would be swift and, potentially, harsh.

But now, it appears that Harvey hasn't yet made a ruling in the case because he may not have to.

MORE: Browns may consider trading for Jimmy Garoppolo if Watson's suspension increases

Deshaun Watson suspension news, updates

According to A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports, the NFL and Watson could reach a settlement before Harvey's decision.

Negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA continued on Tuesday, a source with knowledge of the matter told Front Office Sports. A deal would head off a decision by former New Jersey Attorney Peter C. Harvey, who could issue his ruling on the NFL’s appeal at any time. 

It is unclear exactly what the terms of any settlement between the two sides would be. The NFL has pushed for a year-long suspension of Watson throughout the process, and Goodell confirmed that stance hadn't changed once the NFL's appeal was filed.

"We’ve seen the evidence. [Sue L. Robinson] was very clear about the evidence," Goodell said. "She reinforced the evidence that there [were] multiple violations here and they were egregious and it was predatory behavior."

While the NFL still wants Watson to be banned for a full year, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported the league could settle for fewer games on two conditions: Watson must accept a hefty fine and accept mandatory treatment.

That lines up with what ESPN's Dan Graziano had reported about previous settlement talks between the two sides. At that time, Watson's camp wanted a suspension no longer than eight games while the NFL was only willing to settle for 12 with a large fine attached.

It is also worth noting that Watson apologized for his actions for the first time publicly ahead of the Browns vs. Jaguars preseason game last week.

"I want to say that I'm truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation," Watson said to NFL Network's Aditi Kinkhabwala. "The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward."

That was a shift in Watson's previous tone regarding the allegations against him and led many to believe it could help in settlement talks between the NFL and NFLPA.

MORE: Why Deshaun Watson was able to play preseason Week 1 despite suspension

Why NFL, Deshaun Watson may be willing to settle

Some may be wondering why Watson's camp would suddenly be more apt to take a settlement deal after former federal judge Sue L. Robinson ruled that he should be suspended for just six games. Simply put, they don't have the leverage in negotiations at this point.

As mentioned, Harvey was selected by Goodell to hear the appeal. He has strong ties to the NFL and may be more apt to dole out a long-term suspension to Watson.

The NFL's Personal Conduct Policy reads that a designee "may overturn, reduce, modify or increase the discipline previously issued, [and it] will be final and binding on all parties." That would make it difficult for Watson and the NFLPA to win a federal court appeal of Harvey's ruling, which would be the next step if they disagreed with Harvey's decision.

Of course, some now may wonder why the NFL would accept a settlement if they are in control of the Watson saga. It all boils down to the league's probable desire to have this situation wrapped up before the start of the season.

A federal court case could linger and keep the spotlight on the Watson case. This would be especially true if Watson gets a temporary restraining order that allows him to play to start the season.

Watson receiving that type of injunction remains unlikely, as Charles Robinson explained. Still, if the NFL can agree to a deal that comes with a sizable suspension of Watson, the league may be willing to accept it to mitigate the risk of that occurring.

Either way, it looks like settlement talks between the NFL and Watson's team are ongoing. Now, it's just a matter of whether they can agree to a mutually acceptable deal that gets it over the finish line.

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