Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns finally provided the NFL world with a real development this week. That came in the form of the quarterback settling 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits facing him. Of course, the details of the settlements are kept private.
This came as a shock because he had spent months saying he was going to fight these allegations and not settle. As per his own words, he was innocent and never did anything wrong. So what changed? Perhaps the Cleveland front office made it clear that it was time to start moving forward in this process.
These settlements are a massive development. However, there are still four lawsuits on the table. Even though the number is lower, four lawsuits is nothing to scoff at.
So what does this change with the NFL’s investigation, if anything? That is what Browns fans want to know as training camp approaches and we near July.
Not much should change for the NFL in reviewing Deshaun Watson
The NFL was conducting its investigation knowing that Deshaun Watson has been cleared of all criminal charges. So it’s not like this is the revelation from the week.
Instead, he has agreed to pay money confidentially to make 20 of the 24 cases go away. That is not exactly a huge admission of innocence. He is simply making the problem go away.
The fact that four people are not settling proves just how serious this situation is at the moment. Watson is one of the top quarterbacks in a league where that position runs the show.
He is going to be the face of the Browns franchise and realistically one of the faces of the league. Him playing in 2022 with allegations hanging over his head, and potentially more suits to follow, may not be the best for the team or the league’s image.
So, while the threat of sitting through an extra 20 lawsuits is gone, Watson is nowhere near the clear just yet. It seems fair to think that settling may even backfire, given the fact it seems to promote some sense of admitting of wrongdoing.
The NFL has spent months looking into this and also knows the magnitude of the situation. The last thing the league wants to do is hand out a short suspension, only for more suits to follow.
That may be why the league is taking so long to come to a decision. A serious suspension, perhaps for the year, can only come if they are absolutely sure it is the right decision.
It would appear not much has changed from an NFL disciplinary standpoint with these settlements. The only positive for the quarterback is that he is not staring down 24 lawsuits. However, four is still a serious amount and will remain a distraction for him and the Browns all year, or until a suspension is announced.