NFL could demand 24-game suspension for Browns’ Deshaun Watson?

Technically speaking, the status of Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Deshaun Watson remains in limbo. 

Watson can and, as of Thursday, will start Friday’s preseason opener at the Jacksonville Jaguars over backup Jacoby Brissett. The 26-year-old remains eligible for summer practices and exhibition contests even though NFL disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson has recommended that Watson be suspended for six games regarding allegations of sexual misconduct during massage sessions. 

However, the NFL has since asked appeals officer and former New Jersey Attorney General Peter C. Harvey to impose a one-year ban for Watson that would keep the signal-caller off the field as early as Friday’s matchup. One source says it’s a “slam dunk” that Harvey suspends Watson for an entire year, but a different individual thinks the three-time Pro Bowl selection could receive an even harsher punishment when all is said and done. 

“I came up with a formula where the NFL would be well within their rights to request and demand a 24-game suspension under what the commissioner said about how the league views these violations,” Browns insider Daryl Ruiter explained on the “It’s Always Gameday in Cleveland” podcast, per Ryan Gilbert of Audacy. “He violated the conduct policy in three ways: sexual assault as defined by the National Football League, endangering another human being, compromising the integrity of the shield. That’s what Sue L. Robinson found.

“Now, the league presented four cases in which the therapists accused him of this sexual misconduct. So here’s how I got to 24 games, ‘cause here’s how this averages out. Two games per kind of policy violation. That gets you to six games per instance or violation, right? Well, the league contested in front of Sue. L Robinson he did it at least four times. Six times four equals 24.” 

Ruiter continued: 

“The NFL views it not as one violation. They feel that they presented four separate instances in which Deshaun Watson violated the policy three different ways. Twelve violations in total times two games per violation you get 24. They’re not asking specifically for 24, they were asking for one year minimum of an indefinite suspension.” 

It was previously reported the NFL wanted an “indefinite suspension” with a minimum of one year that would require Watson to apply for reinstatement at some point in 2023. 

Meanwhile, it’s now believed the Browns could make a move for available San Francisco 49ers veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo if Watson is suspended for most or all of the upcoming campaign. Cleveland opens the regular season at the Carolina Panthers on Sept. 11 and presumably would want either Garoppolo or Brissett to be fully ready to start that matchup in Watson’s place. 

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