The NFL had demanded a suspension that would sideline Watson until at least 2022.
Watson will play for the Cleveland Browns’ preseason exhibition on Friday night for the first time since 2020. Although Watson will be attending Friday’s Cleveland Brown preseason exhibition, an appeal of his six-game suspension looming, he is willing to meet the NFL halfway.
The NFL initially sought a one-year suspension for the former Houston Texans quarterback’s suspected sexual abuse by 24 women; a disciplinary committee, jointly appointed by the league and the NFLPA, suspended him for six games without fining him.
After the NFL appealed the ruling over evidence that Goodell said supported “predatory behavior” by Watson, the accused quarterback is willing to accept a more severe punishment.
A source familiar with Watson’s defense said to The Associated Press Thursday that he would settle for an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine to avoid missing the entire season.
It remains unclear if the league would be willing to compromise. During Tuesday’s owner meetings, Goodell maintained that the evidence evaluated by retired Judge Sue L. Robinson was “very clear” in describing the basis of Watson’s case.
Goodell says, “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,”
And include, “Those were always things we felt was really important for us to address and in a way that’s responsible.”
Watson’s future is in the hands of Peter C. Harvey, the former New Jersey attorney general tapped to hear the case last week. Although his decision would be binding under the collective bargaining agreement, NFLPA could challenge it in federal court.
This ruling does not affect Watson’s participation in preseason games, so Browns fans will be able to see their new quarterback in action when Cleveland takes on the Jacksonville Jaguars at 7 p.m.