NFL Tried to Negotiate a Discipline Settlement For Deshaun Watson But Discussions ‘Fell Apart’

by Patrick Norton

Deshaun Watson remains hellbent on clearing his name from 24 separate allegations of sexual misconduct. Following a mandatory minicamp practice two weeks ago, the Cleveland Browns quarterback told reporters, he had “never assaulted, disrespected, or harassed anyone.”

Within the last week, Watson’s legal team has settled 20 of the 24 civil suits, but that hasn’t stopped the NFL‘s pursuit of severe punishment against the three-time pro bowler. Now the quarterback’s stubbornness in the press and in disciplinary settlement talks could result in more games lost.

CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson reports that talks between the league, the players association and Watson “fell apart” when discussions surrounded the number of games the former Houston Texan would miss. The 26-year-old doesn’t believe any suspension is necessary.

However, with the league’s stance well-documented, the process advancing without a settlement doesn’t bode well for Watson. The absence of a deal leaves the decision ultimately in the hands of the league’s disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson with an appeal assuredly ahead. The league remains adamantly hopeful of reaching its conclusion before the beginning of training camp.

How Does Cleveland Handle Deshaun Watson’s Looming Absence?

Cleveland’s acquisition of Watson from the Texans is a backfiring mess for the Browns organization. The trade essentially pushed Baker Mayfield out of the door, but the team hasn’t found a partner willing to accept the fifth-year quarterback’s hefty cap hit.

Mayfield received an excused absence from mandatory minicamp. The expectation is that the quarterback is unwilling to accept an assignment as Cleveland’s short-term answer. As training camp approaches, the Seattle Seahawks sit as favorites to acquire the services of the former Heisman Trophy winner.

The Browns understood the ramifications with Mayfield upon acquiring Watson. The team brought in Jacoby Brissett – a veteran backup with starting experience – shortly following the deal with Houston. But with a suspension on the horizon for the intended starter, Cleveland’s alienation of Mayfield could result in a dramatic backwards step for an organization thought to be capable of competing for a championship.

Did Mayfield receive a fair shot in Cleveland after repeatedly putting his body on the line for his team? Maybe not. But in the franchise’s hour of need, it’s facing the dire consequences of burning the best available bridge.