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Deshaun Watson will take the field for the first time since 2020 when he makes his debut for the Cleveland Brown’s preseason exhibition on Friday night, but with an appeal of his six-game suspension still looming, Watson is willing to meet the NFL somewhere in the middle, according to one report.
The NFL was initially seeking at least a one-year suspension for the former Houston Texans quarterback after 24 women accused him of sexual assault; however, an independent disciplinary officer, jointly appointed by the league and the NFLPA, settled on a six-game suspension with no fine.
Now, as the NFL appeals that decision over evidence that commissioner Roger Goodell said proved “predatory behavior” from Watson, the embattled quarterback is willing to agree to a more significant punishment.
A person familiar with Watson’s defense told The Associated Press Thursday that he would accept an eight-game suspension and $5 million fine to avoid missing the entire season.
It remains unclear if the league would be willing to compromise. Goodell maintained during Tuesday’s owner meetings that the evidence evaluated by retired Judge Sue L. Robinson was “very clear” in describing the basis of Watson’s case.
“She was very clear about the evidence. She reinforced the evidence, that there was multiple violations here, and they were egregious, and that it was predatory behavior,” Goodell said.
“Those were always things we felt was really important for us to address and in a way that’s responsible.”
The fate of Watson’s future rests in the hands of former New Jersey attorney general Peter C. Harvey, who was appointed by Goodell to hear the case last week. While his decision would be binding under the collective bargaining agreement, the NFLPA could challenge the decision in federal court.
Regardless of the ruling, Watson is still able to participate in preseason games, and Browns fans will be able to watch their new quarterback as Cleveland takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 7 p.m. E.T.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.