Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s disciplinary hearing before judge Sue Robinson will extend to a third day on Thursday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday following Day 2 of the hearing.
Watson, who has been accused by multiple women of sexual assault and misconduct during massage therapy sessions, faces possible discipline from the NFL following its independent investigation into whether he violated the league’s personal-conduct policy.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Sunday that the league is expected to argue for an indefinite suspension of at least one year, and then Watson could apply for reinstatement following the 2022 season. Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, and the NFLPA’s attorneys are expected to argue that neither the alleged violations against Watson nor precedence of past suspensions handed down by the NFL support a suspension of such length.
There is no set timeline on Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association, making her ruling, Pelissero and Rapoport have reported, but all parties expect a decision to come before training camp, which begins for Browns veterans on July 26.
In the case either side appeals Robinson’s initial disciplinary decision, the appeal would be handled by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person he designates. The subsequent ruling would then be final.
Tony Buzbee, the attorney for each plaintiff in the cases against Watson, announced on June 21 that confidential settlements had been reached between Watson and 20 of the 24 women who have filed civil lawsuits alleging he committed sexual misconduct.
Watson has previously denied any wrongdoing and maintained any sex with the women was consensual. Two grand juries in Texas have declined to indict Watson on criminal complaints filed by 10 women.
Watson met with league investigators in May.
“I met with the NFL a couple weeks ago, and I did everything they asked me to do, I answered every question truthfully that the NFL asked me,” Watson told reporters on June 14. “I spent hours with the people they brought down, and that’s all I can do is just be honest and tell them exactly what happened. I know they have a job and so I have to respect that, and that’s what we wanted to do is cooperate. They have to make a decision that’s for the league.”
Watson has not played in an NFL game since the 2020 season when he was with the Houston Texans. Watson sat out the 2021 season after he requested a trade out of Houston before allegations of sexual misconduct first surfaced in March 2021. The Texans were sued for allegedly enabling Watson’s behavior during massage sessions in a lawsuit filed Monday in Harris County, Texas.
The Browns traded for Watson in March 2022 and signed him to a five-year, $230 million fully guaranteed contract.