sport news Deshaun Watson: All the big questions answered as Cleveland Browns QB waits to ... trends now
More than one year after the first civil lawsuit was filed against Deshaun Watson, independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson handed the Cleveland Browns quarterback a six-game suspension for the 2022 season.
The 26-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting and harassing dozens of female massage therapists in the Houston area between 2019 and 2021, when he was a member of the Texans.
The NFL exercised its collectively bargained right to file an appeal Wednesday in the wake of the suspension by Robinson, a disciplinary officer appointed by the league and players' union.
Robinson's ruling was labeled as a 'joke' across social media by critics who felt a six-game suspension was insufficient given the allegations against Watson, and the NFL is now expected to increase the punishment.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson was given a six-game suspension Monday
The 26-year-old is accused of sexually assaulting and harassing dozens of female massage therapists in the Houston area dating back to his time with the Houston Texans
What happens next?
Watson is the first NFL player to face the new revamped disciplinary process that takes the initial ruling away from commissioner Roger Goodell and places it in the hands of an independent arbiter.
However, under Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement, Goodell can hear the appeal himself or appoint a another arbiter - and that ruling by Goodell or his designee will be final and binding to all parties.
Pro Football Talk reported Thursday that Goodell will not personally hear the appeal and will designate someone not with the league office to handle it.
The league is appealing for an indefinite suspension that would be a minimum of a year and could also include a monetary fine, according to ESPN's Jeff Darlington.
A league spokesperson has not responded to DailyMail.com's request for confirmation.
In her ruling (pictured), Sue L. Robinson wrote that Watson should limit his massages to club-directed sessions with club-approved massage therapists for the 'duration of his career'
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can hear the appeal himself or appoint a third-party arbiter
Where does Watson go from here?
Both the NFL and the NFLPA had three days to appeal Robinson's decision however, the players' association issued a statement Sunday night saying it would 'stand by Robinson's decision' and not appeal, regardless of the result, and called on the league to agree to the same.
Since the league has filed an appeal, the NFLPA now has until Friday to file a written response.
It looks increasingly likely that the final decision will have to be made in federal court as the NFLPA is preparing to sue the league, according to ESPN.
The NFL had three days to file an appeal against the suspension and did so on Wednesday
When can Watson rejoin the Browns?
Watson will be able to continue participating in practices and games throughout the preseason but once the regular season begins he will have to be away from the team.
Watson will not be allowed to be at the Browns' facility for the first half of his suspension during the regular season.
But, according to the CBA, he will be allowed to rejoin the team and practice during the second half of the ban, commencing in Week 4.
Once regular season begins Watson will not be allowed to participate in practice and games
What did the Browns expect when they acquired him?
The Browns have invested a number of resources into their acquisition of Watson - and not just finances.
Cleveland first sent its first-round draft picks in 2022, 2023, and 2024, as well as its third-round pick in 2023 and fourth-round picks in 2022 and 2024 to Houston for Watson.
Then the Browns signed Watson to a five-year, guaranteed $230 million contract extension - the most guaranteed money of any contract in NFL history.
The commitment to the player was strengthened by the fact that the organization was aware that a suspension was possible, according to ESPN.
However, the initial belief within the organization after the trade was that the ban would most likely be between four to six games.
The franchise was aware that a full-season suspension was on the table, but made the commitment to Watson, nonetheless.
The Browns made a massive commitment to the quarterback when they acquired him in March
What happens to the $230million in guaranteed money?
Most of it will remain. Watson will only lose $345,000 total in game checks for the six weeks he is set to miss, but what remains of the $230m in guaranteed money seems to be his to keep.
Furthermore, Paragraph 42 of Watson's contract appears to protect him from losing any guaranteed money if he is suspended for the 2022 or 2023 seasons and prevents both the team from voiding his contract in that case.
In Paragraph 42, Watson 'represents and warrants (except as disclosed to club in writing), as of the date hereof, that (i) Player has