Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended for the first 11 games of the 2022 regular season and fined $5 million for violations of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy, the league announced Thursday.
The 26-year-old’s suspension will take effect at the final roster cutdown(08/30), and Watson will be eligible for reinstatement on November 28 and return in Week 13 against his former team, the Houston Texans.
In addition, according to the NFL, Watson will promptly undergo a professional evaluation by behavioral experts and will follow their treatment program.
According to the league, the announcement comes after an agreement reached by the NFL and the NFLPA and concludes the disciplinary process.
On August 1, NFL Disciplinary Officer and former Judge Sue L. Robinson determined that Watson had violated the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy for alleged sexual misconduct during massage sessions and suspended Watson for six games with no fine, but the league appealed the decision, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell appointed former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to hear the case.
“Deshaun has committed to doing the hard work on himself that is necessary for his return to the NFL,” Goodell stated via a press release from the league. “This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan, a significant fine, and a more substantial suspension. We are grateful to Judge Robinson and Peter Harvey for their efforts in addressing these matters, which laid the foundation for reaching this conclusion.”.
Twenty-five women filed civil lawsuits accusing Watson of sexual misconduct that allegedly took place during massage sessions from March 2020 to March 2021. One woman dropped her case, and Watson has settled with 23 of the 24 women. In addition, the Houston Texans, recently settled with 30 women concerning allegations that the team enabled Watson’s behavior during massage sessions.
No criminal charges have been levied against Watson at this time as two grand juries in Texas declined to indict him.
In March, the Texans sent Watson and a 2024 fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for a 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, and 2024 fourth-round pick. Following the deal, he signed a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million team with the Browns.
According to the league, Watson’s fine and contributions from the NFL and the Browns of $1 million each will create a fund of $7 million. This fund will support the work of non-profit organizations across the country that educate young people on healthy relationships, promote education and prevention of sexual misconduct and assault, support survivors and related causes.