Skip to main content

Editors’ note: This story contains accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at

Deshaun Watson’s disciplinary hearing with Sue L. Robinson, the disciplinary officer appointed by the NFL and players association, is slated to begin Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter

The former U.S. district judge will hear the different sides as the league will reportedly argue for a “significant” suspension while the NFLPA will defend the Browns quarterback. A source close to Watson’s side told The Washington Post that the NFL will “probably” go with a one-season suspension. However, a different source close to the league’s side said to be “careful” about a specific suspension length, but that the ruling will be “significant.”

According to Schefter, the league “is likely to base its proposed discipline on only a fraction of those women’s testimony” after not being able to speak with some of the women. 

The NFL Players Association will “mobilize with an aggressive defense on Watson’s behalf,” which will reportedly include comparisons to the league’s handling of cases involving three prominent team owners—the Commanders’ Daniel Snyder, Patriots’ Robert Kraft and Cowboys’ Jerry Jones.

A source told Schefter it is believed a decision could be delivered within a week or could take up until training camp, which begins in late July. 

Watson faced two dozen civil lawsuits, each detailing graphic accounts of sexual harassment and sexual assault that occurred during massage therapy sessions. The accounts range from Watson allegedly refusing to cover his genitals to the quarterback “touching [a plaintiff] with his penis and trying to force her to perform oral sex on him.” The latest detailed that Watson masturbated and ejaculated on the plaintiff without her consent. It was expected that more could be on the horizon.

The quarterback has denied all allegations against him, and two Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal charges.

Shortly after the Harris County grand jury concluded, Cleveland traded for Watson and signed him to a five-year contract worth a guaranteed $230 million. A clause built into the contract mandates Watson will lose only $55,556 for every game he’s suspended this season. 

However, Watson agreed to settle 20 of the 24 lawsuits. Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, announced the news Tuesday. He said that the terms and amounts agreed to are confidential and “we won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”

“Today, I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. “Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed.”

The first civil lawsuit against Watson was filed in March 2021 by Ashley Solis, and Buzbee noted in his statement that she is not one of the 20 women whose cases were settled.

“Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue,” he said. “I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”

In wake of the settlement news, NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy told NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero that the “development has no impact on the collectively bargained disciplinary process.” 

More Deshaun Watson Coverage: