Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will now be suspended for 11 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
The NFL and the NFL Players Association reportedly struck a settlement deal that will see Watson unable to play until at least Week 13 of the upcoming season – a Dec. 4 matchup in Houston between the Browns and – Watson’s former team – the Texans. Watson will also reportedly be fined $5 million, which ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported will go to charity. Watson will also undergo counseling, as part of the deal.
“I’m grateful that the disciplinary process has ended and extremely appreciative of the tremendous support I have received throughout my short time with the Browns organization,” Watson said in a Thursday statement following the ruling. “I apologize once again for any pain this situation has caused. I take accountability for the decisions I made. My focus going forward is on working to become the best version of myself on and off the field and supporting my teammates however possible while I’m away from the team. I’m excited about what the future holds for me in Cleveland.”
Watson later attended a press conference in Berea and said he will “continue to stand on my innocence,” also denying he ever assaulted or disrespected anyone.
The Browns QB, acquired in the offseason amidst 26 allegations of sexual misconduct and harassment, was originally handed a 6-game suspension with no fine on Aug. 1 by former Judge Sue L. Robinson, who was the arbiter in the initial case by the NFL. Watson has settled all but one of the 24 civil lawsuits filed against him within the last month and a half.
The settlement comes in advance of a potential ruling from Peter C. Harvey, the appointed designee by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, on the league’s appeal of the original suspension set by Robinson.
As part of the agreement, the NFL and the Browns will reportedly donate an additional $7 million to sexual assault prevention programs.
The Browns are slated to play the Philadelphia Eagles in the second of their three preseason games this Sunday.