CLEVELAND — As Deshaun Watson awaits a decision on his punishment for the 2022 NFL season, it appears that the Cleveland Browns quarterback is already considering his potential response. According to Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, Watson and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) have already determined that they will sue the NFL if the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback receives a full-year suspension.
Robinson's report comes as both Watson and the NFL await a decision from his case's jointly appointed independent arbiter, former U.S. District Judge Sue L. Robinson. Should Robinson rule that Watson -- who has been accused of sexual misconduct including harassment and assault by more than two dozen women -- violated the league's Personal Conduct Policy, either side will have the ability to appeal whatever punishment she issues (an appeal can't be made if Robinson issues no punishment in the case).
That appeal, however, would be heard by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or one of his designees. The NFL has reportedly recommended an indefinite suspension for the 26-year-old signal-caller, lasting no less than one season.
In other words, should Robinson hand Watson a one-year suspension, it appears unlikely that his appeal to the NFL would be successful. Conversely, should she issue a suspension of less than a year, the league would have the ability to appeal it, with Goodell or his designee making the final decision, leaving a lawsuit in federal court as one of the Clemson product's few options for recourse.
Should Watson and the NFLPA opt to sue the league over his punishment, it wouldn't be unprecedented. In 2015, Tom Brady sued the NFL over the four-game suspension he received as a part of the "Deflategate" scandal, and while Brady's lawsuit was initially successful, the suspension was later reinstated via an appeal.
Of course, the possibility exists that Robinson never issues a punishment as Watson and the NFL have the ability to negotiate a settlement before she does. According to Charles Robinson, a decision from the judge might not come until the start of training camp next week, leaving plenty of time for the quarterback and the league to do just that.
Last month, Watson settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits he was facing, with a 25th having been dropped. Two Texas grand juries have declined to indict the former Houston Texans quarterback on criminal charges regarding the accusations.