HOUSTON -- Former Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has begun to meet with league officials on Tuesday to determine if he violated the personal conduct policy. The meeting will dictate if Watson is set to be disciplined by the league in terms of suspension for the upcoming season.
The news was first reported by ESPN. The meetings are believed to involve Watson, his staff and the NFL investigative team led by Lisa Friel.
Watson, who was traded to the Cleveland Browns in exchange for six draft picks in March, is still being investigated by the league to determine if he violated its conduct policy. The three-time Pro Bowl quarterback is facing 22 civil lawsuits of sexual misconduct and sexual assault from women who have accused him of inappropriate behavior during massage sessions.
Two grand juries in Texas elected to not indict Watson on criminal charges following a trial earlier this offseason. Watson has denied all wrongdoing and has said he will continue to fight to clear his name of all charges.
“I understand these allegations are serious. I never assaulted any woman. I’ve never disrespected any woman,” Watson said at his introductory press conference in Cleveland. “I was raised to be genuine and to respect everyone around me. … I’ve never done the things that these people are alleging.”
Prior to waiving his no-trade clause, Watson agreed to a new deal with the Browns worth $230 million in fully guaranteed money. He will be under contract in Cleveland through the 2026 season.
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A former prosecutor in New York, Friel has been heading the investigation since the start for the league office. According to ESPN, once the investigation is complete, former U.S. District Court Judge Sue Robinson, a disciplinary officer who was appointed by the league and NFL Players Association, will decide if Watson violated any of the conduct policies and will report the findings to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell will have the final say on if Watson will miss time at the start of the season and the longevity of the suspension.
"We’re taking it very seriously," Goodell told ESPN last month. "Our investigators are working on that. … There’s no timetable on it. … The investigation is still ongoing."
Watson last played for Houston in 2020, leading the franchise to a 4-12 record. He did, however, lead the league in passing with 4,823 yards while setting a Texans' single-season record in touchdowns with 33.
The Texans return to practice for voluntary OTAs on Tuesday, May 24. The Browns begin their OTAs with or without Watson on May 24 as well.