The NFL and NFLPA must submit post-hearing briefs in the Deshaun Watson case by next week, which will postpone the initial decision. The parties made an effort to resume the settlement discussions that had halted in the weeks prior to the hearing during it.
NFL, NFLPA not discussing Deshaun Watson settlement
A settlement would stop this protracted procedure and do away with the need for an appeal. But it doesn’t seem like that will be the outcome of this.
During the three-day hearing, the league and the union explored a settlement; however, ESPN’s Dan Graziano stated on “Keyshawn, JWill & Max” that the sides are at odds regarding this issue.
The NFL still wants a full season’s worth of suspension, but Graziano added that the organization was open to talking about a little bit less severe punishment — 12 games was mentioned but was not specifically confirmed as an NFL offer here — with the stipulation that the suspension be indefinite.
Watson wants no part of the indefinite condition, even if the NFL appeared to leave the door open to a scenario involving an indefinite ban that may allow him to play at some point in 2022.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk adds that no settlement discussions have taken place since the hearing, citing a source who said that an offer of an indefinite ban with the prospect of Watson returning after 12 games would be unreasonable based on the evidence and arguments in Delaware.
Florio reports that Watson’s side is still fighting to have the quarterback not even get a warning for his alleged widespread sexual misconduct and sexual assault. Graziano adds that this process is “far past” the point of resolution.
In light of the possibility of an appeal, discipline officer Sue Robinson will issue her decision, which is anticipated before training camp.
The NFL cannot appeal if Robinson decides Watson did not break the personal conduct policy of the NFL. After that, Watson would be qualified for Week 1.
The NFL’s resolve will be put to the test if Robinson suspends Watson for a portion of this season. Roger Goodell may ensure a full-season suspension on appeal if the league requests one.
However, in the first instance of this recently enacted policy, doing so would mean overturning the decision of an arbitrator who was unanimously accepted.
That would undoubtedly not sit well with the NFLPA, which has often complained about the commissioner’s excessive use of discipline.
However, there may be substantial criticism if the league is seen as being soft with Watson. Robinson’s request for a moderate suspension would give the NFL the opportunity to make an intriguing choice.