Watson settles 20 of 24 civil lawsuits: cases dismissed with looming NFL decision incoming

Deshaun Watson speaks out
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson answers a question at the NFL football team’s practice facility Tuesday, June 14, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached a confidential settlement with all but four of the 24 women who sued, and accused him of sexual misconduct over the last two years. 

Deshaun Watson reportedly saw 66 women in a 17 month span for massages
Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson throws a pass during NFL football practice at the team’s training facility Wednesday, May 25, 2022, in Berea, Ohio. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

“Today I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” plaintiffs attorney Tony 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 terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”

The latest statement from Buzbee comes after Watson has had numerous additional reports over the last month further muddying the waters of his future in the NFL. 

As early as last month, a New York Times article announced that Watson had visited 66 women in a 17 month time period. The report also coincided with two additional women coming out and joining the civil suit against the Browns quarterback. 

Among the names of women who have not settled is Ashley Solis. Solis was the first accuser to come out against Watson, and recently was interviewed during an HBO Documentary to detail her accounts with the former Texan. 

As part of the initial statement, Buzbee mentioned Solis by name saying she “is one of the heroes of this story. Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue. I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule”

Watson’s NFL Future

While a conclusion to Deshaun Watson’s legal troubles may be coming, the NFL is not obligated to withdraw a suspension for a player settling legal troubles. 

In a three year period, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexual assault of two women and ultimately settled with both. 

The NFL still suspended Big Ben six games as a violation of the personal conduct policy agreed on by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. 

The NFL’s personal conduct policy states that NFL personnel must refrain from “conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in” the NFL.

While Watson may have settled with a large number of women who have accused him, it is still within the league’s right to drop a punishment for conduct that is detrimental to the public confidence of the league.  A report from last week noted that the NFLPA is prepared to defend the high profile quarterback, no matter what punishment is handed down to the quarterback. 

The former National Champion has maintained his innocence over the last few months. Just a week ago, Watson spoke to the media for the first time in months saying “I never assaulted anyone.”

Watson signed a five year $230 million, fully guaranteed contract with the Browns this off-season. In a twist, the former Clemson product only receives $1 million of guaranteed money this year.

While it is normal for NFL contracts to be “back-loaded” like this, it means that any suspension Watson receives this year will mean the pay will be cut from the $1 million salary. 

The NFL has reportedly been expecting to wrap up the investigation into Watson before training camp begins at the end of July. 

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