CLEVELAND (WJW) – A settlement has been reached between Cleveland Browns Quarterback Deshaun Watson and the NFL.
The agreement is for 11 games and a $5 million fine, the FOX 8 I-Team confirmed.
FOX 8’s John Sabol reports Watson’s 11-game suspension will begin on Aug 30.
Deshaun will not play any more preseason games. He can return to the training facility on Oct. 10 and resume practicing on Nov. 14. His first possible game is on Dec. 4 in Houston.
That means backup Jacoby Brissett will be filling in for the first 11 regular season games.
After the decision was handed down, Watson said he was innocent, following a statement in which he said he took “accountability” for his decisions.
“I’ve always stood on my innocence. And I’ve always said I never assaulted anyone, and I’m continuing to stand on that,” he said in a press conference Thursday just after the decision was announced.
“I know who I am as a person,” Watson said.
Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam also spoke at the press conference.
“I think it’s important to remember that Deshaun is 26 years old,” Jimmy Haslam said. When asked whether the Haslams were comfortable with Deshaun being the face of the franchise, he continued his message of support.
“Absolutely, 100%,” he said. “We’re around him every day, and he said he’s remorseful.”
Dee Haslam said that everyone was ready to move forward.
“We can talk about Deshaun, or we can talk about the major issues the country faces and make a difference, Dee said. “How can we move forward as a country? This isn’t about Deshaun,” she continued.
The Haslams said they were going to invest $1 million dollars for awareness and education in sexual misconduct.
Deshaun Watson signed a five-year, $230 million contract with the Cleveland Browns, including a $44,965,000 signing bonus. His average salary will be $46 million in 2022, with most of that money coming in the signing bonus.
Browns General Manager Andrew Berry said they made an informed decision trading for Watson, even though they didn’t talk to any of Watson’s 24 accusers and Watson was still under investigation by two Texas grand juries, who ultimately decided Watson would not face indictment.
“We were following the advice of our legal counsel,” Berry said. “We see someone who is committed to a long process of personal growth.
The Haslams, Berry and Watson would not answer any questions about how Watson’s massages would be handled moving forward.
Watson settled lawsuits with 23 of 24 women who claimed sexual misconduct during massage sessions. The I-Team has reported extensively on the lawsuits and investigation.
“I can’t get into any details on that,” Watson said about a settlement with the outstanding case. “I have to take steps and put pride to the side and I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence.”
Tony Buzbee, the attorney who represents the accusers, released the following statement regarding the ruling:
“By settling this matter the way he has, Roger Goodell has proven one of two things: either his recent rhetoric was utter baloney, or his bark is much worse than his bite. My belief is that he is nothing more than a paper tiger. The message today to all victims is clear, if you believe you have been sexually assaulted by a powerful person, keep your mouth shut and go away. The NFL has certainly demonstrated that it’s ownership and the organization doesn’t care. To all sexual assault survivors, do not allow this recent ‘punishment’ to deter you. Keep speaking up and keep speaking out. Your voice matters. You are making a difference. We stand with you.”
Two weeks ago, NFL officials appealed a 6-game suspension a disciplinary officer imposed on Watson. Watson and the NFL player’s union did not appeal the suspension.
Hon. Peter Harvey, a former attorney general for New Jersey with a background in sexually violent cases, heard the appeal.
- Deshaun Watson: “I’ve always stood on my innocence. And I’ve always said I never assaulted anyone, and I’m continuing to stand on that.”
- “I have to take steps and put pride to the side and I’m going to continue to stand on my innocence.”
- “I apologize to all women.”
- “I apologize to anyone who was affected about this whole situation.”
- “I’m going to focus on practicing against Philly.”
- “The NFL did what they had to do.”
- “I can’t get into any details on that.” (Remaining case that has not been settled.)
- “I have to do what’s best for Deshaun Watson at the end of the day.”
- “I’m just going to continue to push forward as an individual and as a person.”
- “I know who I am as a person.”
- Owner Dee Haslam: “We’re going to invest $1 million for awareness and education in sexual misconduct.”
- Owner Jimmy Haslam: “I think it’s important to remember that Deshaun is 26 years old.”
- “Absolutely, 100%,” Jimmy Haslam said to I-Team question about whether they’re comfortable with Deshaun being on the team
- GM Andrew Berry: “We felt like we made an informed decision.”
- Berry: “We were following the advice of our legal counsel,” responding to a question about why they didn’t talk to any of Watson’s 24 accusers before adding him to the team.
- Berry: “We see someone who is committed to a long process of personal growth.”
- Jimmy Haslam: “He’s been very open to counseling and personal growth.”
- Jimmy Haslam: “We were bystanders.”
- Jimmy Haslam: “We’re around him every day and he said he’s remorseful,” he said when pressed about Deshaun maintaining his innocence.”
- Jimmy Haslam: “I believe in second chances,” to a question about whether he would do anything differently in making someone of questionable character the face of the Browns franchise.
- Dee Haslam: “We can talk about Deshaun or we can talk about the major issues the country faces and make a difference.”
- “How can we move forward as a country? This isn’t about Deshaun,” Dee Haslam.
- Stefanski said the clarity is “Helpful for us.”
- “We’re excited about Jacoby,” Stefanski said of Brissett, who will be the backup.
- Stefanski said he was confident and comfortable in Jacoby for 11 games.
- “I know he’s someone who is committed to growing as a person.” – Stefanski