In response to over two dozen complaints of sexual assault against quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns, the NFL suspended him for six games.

24 massage therapists have filed legal complaints saying that Watson harassed them sexually while they were working, including by forcibly kissing between 2020 and 2021 and forcing himself to expose himself. Watson is accused of sexual assault by two of the women, including compelling them to engage in oral sex. In June and July, Watson made private agreements with 20 of the women. Watson has not been indicted on any charges by two grand juries.

Watson was referred to as a “serial predator” by one woman, and the NFL is allegedly Watson’s protector. While Watson was a member of the Houston Texans, the charges were made. On July 15, the Texans agreed to an undisclosed settlement with a separate lawsuit filed by 30 women who claimed the team ignored and condoned Watson’s behavior. Three months after trading Watson to the Browns from the Texans, who immediately offered him a five-year, $230 million contract with full guarantee, the team reached a settlement.

In case Watson is suspended due to the sexual misconduct charges, the Browns simulated how to make sure he gets the most of that money. The Browns cut Watson’s base salary to only $1.035 million in anticipation of disciplinary action. With this change, Watson will be suspended for three games. As noted by sports business analyst Darren Rovell, the total financial fine is just 0.14 percent of his $230M contract.

Deshaun Watson’s compensation is reduced by $333,000 (6 out of 18 games). In preparation for this, a $1 million salary was made.
He barely loses 0.14 percent of his $230M contract as a result.
Darren Rovell, August 1, 2022 (@darrenrovell)

Watson will also be permitted to keep his $44.9 million signing bonus because Sue L. Robinson, a former federal judge and NFL disciplinary officer, only determined that Watson should be suspended for six games and not be subject to any financial penalties.

In a joint statement, Watson and the NFL Players Association, who had argued there should be no punishment at all because there had been no criminal conviction, said they would not appeal the decision.

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