The NFLPA had two business days to submit a short answer to the NFL questions Deshaun Watson appeal. As expected, the union filled short replies as expected (Twitter to combine).
This case now comes to the appeal of appointed Peter Harvey, whose … Roger Goodell appointed to hear the league’s appeal. Harvey helped the NFL devise its own conduct policy, and the fact that Goodell chose him to hear Watson’s appeal to six matches suggests the league is confident that more matches will be banned from the Browns quarterback.
What is taking place places the NFLPA in a position where a court battle seems likely. As the union has not appealed the six-game ban from Sue Robinson, Watson will miss the first six matches of this season. However, a court fight may put him on the pitch right afterwards. A preliminary injunction, once the courts have dealt with the case, would put Watson in position and – assuming the league’s CBA remained in court – would serve two separate suspensions. Or the union’s legal effort fails before week 7 with Watson providing a longer suspension that spans most or all of the 2022 season. Tom Brady and Ezekiel Elliott played under warrants, but each served a suspension set by Goodell at a later date.
The NFL is once again seeking a season-long suspension, which is the target for the past few weeks. Robinson, who ruled Watson, violated the league’s personal behavior policy by committing a sexual assault during a massage session, which gives Harvey the opportunity to increase his suspension. In the absence of a season-long suspension, the league wants to significantly increase the penalty for Watson. Watson’s contract structure with the Browns, giving the former Texas Pro Bowler a league minimum wage to minimize his financial penalty in the event of a suspension, did not appeal to the NFL.
Talks about a settlement between the NFL and the NFLPA took place periodically, and there was more clarity as to what each side was prepared to accept. The NFLPA spent weeks arguing that Watson should not be suspended at all, but ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano reports that the union was willing to accept an eight-game ban. The minimum absence the NFL has agreed to is 12 games. Graziano added that if a 12-match suspension were to be settled, the NFL also wanted Watson to be fined $ 8 million.
Watson’s camp was reluctant to agree with the NFL’s insistence on an indefinite suspension, according to NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo, who describes this element as a major factor in breaking settlement talks (video to combine). In the current situation, Watson will lose less than $ 500,000 due to a six-game ban. A season-long absence would only cost him a base salary of $ 1 million.
This trial, which involved 25 civil lawsuits brought against a recently listed quarterback, will be designed to be completed quickly, according to ESPN.com’s Jeff Darlington (on Twitter). No additional hearings coming, just Harvey’s decision. Then he can move to court. The Browns are ready to give their initial job: Jacoby Brissett in Watson’s Absence, z Josh Dobbs and Josh Rosen serving as fallback options.