As the Cleveland Browns prepare for their first preseason game on Friday, Aug. 12, they are still awaiting the final word on how long quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended.
Independent arbitrator Sue Robinson initially issued a six-game suspension, which came as something of a relief to the Browns, but as expected, the NFL appealed that decision.
The league reportedly wants to suspend Watson for the entire regular season, and now he and his camp will reportedly be willing to settle for a penalty of just eight games instead, as well as a fine of $5 million.
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) August 12, 2022
It is unknown whether commissioner Roger Goodell would be willing to negotiate with Watson’s camp, but an eight-game suspension would be a big win for the Browns – and a loss for the league in terms of public relations.
The NFL May Have To Come Down Hard On Watson In Order To Save Face
It’s no secret the NFL has had to deal with many off-the-field incidents in recent years, including but not limited to domestic violence incidents by Ray Rice and Jovan Belcher, Ben Roethlisberger’s sexual assault allegations and Adrian Peterson’s child abuse incident.
But it hasn’t only been players who have gotten themselves in hot water.
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft was involved in an alleged prostitution case, while the NFL is still dealing with the fallout from the Dan Snyder, Jon Gruden and Brian Flores incidents in recent months.
Some longtime Browns fans are so disgusted that the team traded for an alleged sexual predator such as Watson that they have vowed to switch allegiances and root for a different team instead.
The league has been inconsistent with issuing discipline for various types of incidents, but if it doesn’t suspend the former Texans star for an entire season, or at least close to the whole season, the outcry could become worse.
Women know all too well men like Deshaun Watson. We've all been there. His 6 week suspension is a joke. He gets a slap on the hand, never has to admit to what he did and a hero like Kaepernick is shunned. Something is seriously wrong with the NFL.
— Dr. Strange 🌊🌊🌊🌈🇺🇲 (@Dr_R_Strange) August 2, 2022
Those who are sympathetic to Watson’s accusers feel the $230 million contract he agreed to shortly after being traded to Cleveland was like rubbing salt in the wounds of his alleged victims.
On the other hand, the NFL also may feel like it has to protect its bottom line, and perhaps it could be argued that a heavy suspension would eat into revenue a little bit, although plenty of things are more important than money.
An Eight-Game Suspension Would Be A Lucky Turn Of Events For Cleveland
The Browns have already had a difficult training camp that has seen Amari Cooper, Jakeem Grant and rookie David Bell suffer injuries, severely depleting their wide receiver depth.
Whether it would be fair or not based on whatever Watson did, an eight-game suspension for him would be some much-needed good news for the team, as it would keep its playoff hopes alive.
If QB2 Jacoby Brissett does a good job of keeping the team afloat during such a suspension, Watson could elevate it just enough during much of its tough stretch that starts in Week 5 versus the Los Angeles Chargers.
At that point, with a signal-caller as talented as him, anything could be possible if the Browns, for once, are the beneficiaries of good luck.