Retired federal judge Sue Lewis Robinson has found that Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy and has suspended him for six games. Per ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the NFL now has three days to decide on whether to appeal the decision. The league had reportedly been pushing for a full-season suspension and at least a $5 million fine for the 26-year-old Watson during a three-day hearing before Robinson in June.
The ruling also reportedly includes a clause stating that Watson can only get massages from his NFL team’s personnel and must maintain a clean record from police investigation. There is no fine attached to the decision.
Watson can continue to practice and play in exhibition games before his suspension begins the first week of the regular season. He is eligible to return to practice in Week 4 and would be able to play on October 23rd when the Browns travel to Baltimore.
The former Clemson star, who signed a fully guaranteed $230 million, five-year contract, will lose only $345,000 if the suspension is unchanged because his base salary this season is $1.035 million. His $45 million signing bonus is not affected by the suspension.
Watson and the NFL Players Association came out with a statement Sunday evening calling on the NFL to honor the third-party decision and not appeal. Watson and the NFLPA pledged to not appeal the decision themselves.