The Cleveland Browns acquired Deshaun Watson this past offseason from the Houston Texans.
Because the 26-year-old has found himself on the wrong end of some ugly allegations over the past year and change, the move was a bit of a head-scratcher. As was Cleveland’s decision to give Watson a fully guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract.
A three-day disciplinary hearing to determine whether Watson violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy occurred in June, and a final decision on his status for next season is expected by July 27.
According to Cleveland sports insider Tony Rizzo, there is a good chance Watson won’t even end up missing half of the Browns’ season at this point.
— ESPN Cleveland (@ESPNCleveland) July 12, 2022
If that is the expectation going forward, then it makes sense why the Browns didn’t care about what happened to Baker Mayfield. Or why all parties involved are so laissez-faire regarding who will step in for Watson while he is out.
As for why Watson’s punishment will be so light – well it likely comes down to several factors. First and foremost, he did recently settle 20 of the 24 civil suits against him. Next, while a lot of really ugly details have emerged, none have actually been proven in the court of law.
Moreover, when given the opportunity to indict Watson on criminal charges for his alleged actions, authorities declined.
It’s hard for the NFL to take a firm stance on this matter when nobody else seems to be taking it particularly seriously.
Yes, Calvin Ridley got suspended for a full year over mild gambling. Sure, players have lost entire seasons over weed. But in all those cases, the so-called crime was proven. Here, it’s just a bunch of accusations and settled court cases.
However, there has been some evidence that has helped him as well. Recently it came out that a son admitted his mother lied about Watson. Obviously it’s not fair that one thing like that undermines tens of accusations, but its effect is undeniable.
Classic Nick Saban. https://t.co/bWlJe7tgB0
— Game 7 (@game7__) July 13, 2022
A final decision on Watson is coming soon. And if his suspension truly is just four to six weeks, it will have massive ramifications for the NFL as a whole.
Will fans see Watson actually playing football in 2022-23?
Time will tell.