Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson Expected To Have His Disciplinary Hearing This Week

by Patrick Norton

It appears the beginning of the end is around the corner for the Deshaun Watson disciplinary saga. What started as an opportunistic trade request out of Houston transformed into a nightmare for the quarterback when 24 women – all massage therapists in the Houston area – filed civil lawsuits against Watson, claiming sexual harassment and misconduct.

The 26-year-old hasn’t played in an NFL game since January 2021, and belief around the league remains he likely won’t see game action for possibly another season. But nothing is official until the league submits the findings of its investigation to the NFL and NFLPA jointly appointed disciplinary officer, Sue L. Robinson.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports Watson’s disciplinary hearing begins this upcoming Tuesday. Proceedings begin with four active civil suits; Watson’s legal team agreed to settle 20 of the 24 last week. But the NFL claims that the status of each lawsuit holds no bearing on potential discipline, as the investigation determines whether or not Watson broke the league’s code of conduct.

As for the hearing itself, it marks the Honorable Sue L. Robinson’s – a former member and chief judge in Delaware’s district court – first matter with the NFL. Her ruling is subject to appeal from Watson’s team, however, any appeal goes to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or an independently contracted ruler; not Robinson.

Deshaun Watson’s Head-Scratching Attitude Doesn’t Match His Actions

While Watson’s team settled out of court with the quarterback’s accusers, the three-time pro bowler has taken a more adversarial stance with the league. While maintaining a level of innocence, Watson continues denying the league’s attempts to settle on a suspension before the hearing.

The hold-up? Watson allegedly doesn’t believe any suspension is necessary. The league notably believes otherwise, reportedly pushing for a “significant” shelving.

What happens in the hearing likely results in a shockwave throughout the NFL, not only in Cleveland. The Browns’ investment in Watson comes with a back-up plan by way of a back-up quarterback with starting experience. However, that QB is not Cleveland’s four-year starter who is still on the team’s roster: Baker Mayfield. Instead, the Browns look to Jacoby Brissett as the increasingly likely Week 1 QB1 less than three months away.

The bridge between Mayfield and the Browns is not only burning, but reduced to embers and ash. Mayfield has no intention of playing for Cleveland as a short-term stopgap, but his $19 million cap hit is scaring off potential suitors. The former Oklahoma Sooner’s best path toward starting in 2022 likely lies with Seattle, but no deal has come near fruition.

For now, a crowded quarterback’s room is the least of Cleveland’s worries.