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A decision regarding discipline for Deshaun Watson is still expected before training camp, though the league has yet to conclude its investigation and turn it over to a disciplinary officer, according to two people with knowledge of the case.
Both people spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Friday because the investigation is ongoing. The Cleveland Browns open training camp on July 22 for rookies with veterans due on July 26.
Once the NFL completes its investigation, former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the league and the players’ union, will review the findings to decide whether Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and whether to impose discipline.
The Cleveland quarterback reached an agreement to settle 20 of 24 civil lawsuits for sexual misconduct earlier this week. A league official told the AP the settlement won’t dissuade the NFL from seeking a lengthy suspension.
The league and the NFL Players’ Association can recommend a potential length of suspension. If either the union or league appeals Robinson’s decision, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his designee “will issue a written decision that will constitute full, final and complete disposition of the dispute,” per terms of Article 46 in the CBA.
It’s unlikely Watson’s legal team will be able to negotiate terms of a suspension to avoid having the disciplinary officer make the decision.
The Browns acquired Watson from Houston for a slew of draft picks and signed the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback to a fully guaranteed, five-year, $230 million contract in March.
Watson has denied any wrongdoing and vowed to clear his name.
In March, two separate Texas grand juries declined to indict him on criminal complaints stemming from the allegations.