The news finally came down early Monday morning that Judge Sue Robinson recommended a six-game suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Parties involved in the disciplinary hearing for #Browns QB Deshaun Watson have been informed by Judge Sue Robinson that Watson should be suspended 6 games, sources say.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) August 1, 2022
Sunday evening, the NFLPA announced that they, along with Watson, would accept Robinson’s ruling and would not appeal, and encouraged the NFL to do the same. The NFL now has three days to appeal Robinson’s decision; and if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell really wanted to, he could overrule the recommendation. We will see how things play out in that regard this week.
At the very least, we know that Watson is definitely gone for the first six games of the regular season. He will still be allowed to participate in all of training camp and the preseason games. Jacoby Brissett was signed for this very reason, to hopefully steer the ship in a winning direction until Watson’s assumed suspension was over.
From a football perspective, Browns fans were hoping for a four-game suspension, because Cleveland arguably has the easiest four-game stretch to open the season of any team in the NFL. Things get tough after that, with the fifth and sixth games being against the Chargers and Patriots. A silver lining for those two games is that they are both at home.
Watson’s return is currently scheduled for Week 7, a road game against the Baltimore Ravens before facing the AFC Champion Cincinnati Bengals. Per Robinson’s ruling, he would be allowed to practice again starting in Week 4, which would give him time to prepare for his return game. All things considered, it’s a situation that Browns fans will probably gladly take from a football perspective. (I hate that I keep having to use that disclaimer, by the way.)
With Watson’s low base salary in 2022, he would only be fined six game checks for a total of $345,000. One note included in Robinson’s ruling is that it “requires no massages other than directed by club personnel and no adverse involvement with no law enforcement.”
On Monday afternoon, co-owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam released a statement saying they “respect Judge Robinson’s decision:
“Throughout this process, Deshaun and his representatives have abided by the newly created and agreed upon process for the NFLPA and the NFL to defer to the objective Judge Sue L. Robinson to comprehensively review all information and make a fair decision. We respect Judge Robinson’s decision, and at the same time, empathize and understand that there have been many individuals triggered throughout this process. We know Deshaun is remorseful that this situation has caused much heartache to many and he will continue the work needed to show who he is on and off the field, and we will continue to support him.”
The NFL also released a statement saying the league office is also pondering its next move, according to NFL.com:
“We thank Judge Sue L. Robinson, the independent disciplinary officer, for her review of the voluminous record and attention during a three-day hearing that resulted in her finding multiple violations of the NFL personal-conduct policy by Deshaun Watson. We appreciate Judge Robinson’s diligence and professionalism throughout this process.
“Pursuant to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFL or the NFLPA on behalf of Watson may appeal the decision within three days. In light of her findings, the league is reviewing Judge Robinson’s imposition of a six-game suspension and will make a determination on next steps.”
The league has until 9 a.m. on Thursday to appeal the decision, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter.