The NFLPA had two business days to submit a brief response to the NFLs Deshaun Watson appeal. The union, as expected, has followed up on the submission of a reply letter (Twitter clutch).
This case now goes to appealed Peter Harvey, who: Roger Goodell designated to handle the league’s appeal. Harvey has helped the NFL draft its policy on personal conduct, and the fact that Goodell selected him to hear about the appeal of Watson’s six-game ban suggests the league believes more games will benefit from the ban. Browns quarterback will be stuck.
Doing so puts the NFLPA in a place where a lawsuit seems likely. As the union did not appeal the six-game suspension of Sue Robinson, Watson will miss the first six games of this season. However, a fight in court could have him on the field immediately after. A preliminary injunction, as courts hear this case, would put Watson in position to play and – assuming the league’s CBA holds up in court – issue two separate suspensions. Or the union’s legal efforts fail ahead of that Week 7 window and Watson serves a longer suspension that will cover most or all of the 2022 season. Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott played under subpoena, but each served the suspensions determined by Goodell on later dates.
The NFL is again aiming for a full-season suspension, the goal of recent weeks. Robinson Government Watson has violated the league’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault during massage therapy sessions, allowing Harvey to increase his suspension. In the absence of a full-season suspension, the league wants to significantly increase Watson’s fine. The Browns structuring Watson’s contract, giving the former Texan Pro Bowler a league minimum salary to minimize his financial penalty in the event of a suspension, has not sat well with the NFL.
There have been periodic settlement talks between the NFL and the NFLPA and more clarity has emerged about what both parties were willing to accept. The NFLPA argued for weeks that Watson should not be suspended at all, but ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano reports that the union was willing to accept an eight-game suspension. The shortest absence the NFL has allowed was 12 games. If the 12-game suspension were to be introduced via a settlement, Graziano adds that the NFL also wanted Watson to be fined $8MM.
Watson’s camp was unwilling to join the NFL’s push for an indefinite suspension, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, who describes that part as a leading driver in aborting the settlement talks (video). clutch). As it stands, Watson will lose less than $500K from his six-game suspension. A full season absence would only cost him his $1 MM base salary.
This lawsuit, which included 25 civil lawsuits filed against the recently traded quarterback, will be designed to be concluded quickly, ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington reported (on Twitter). There will be no additional hearings, just Harvey’s decision. After that, it can go to court. The Browns are ready to give their runway to Jacoby Brissett in Watson’s absence, with: Josh Dobbs and Josh Rosen serve as reserve options.