NFL Appeals Deshaun Watson Ruling; Suspension Expected to Be Longer

Deshaun Watson
"Deshaun Watson" by KA Sports Photos is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

Just days after Sue Robinson released her verdict of a six-game suspension for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, the NFL has appealed her decision. The league office let the NFL Players Association know that they would be pushing for an indefinite suspension. League commissioner Rodger Goodell or one of his appointees will be the ones covering the case. With the league now functioning as judge, jury, and executioner, it is all but certain that Watson will receive much more than a six games suspension when things are all said and done. Had Robinson recommended that Watson be suspended zero games, he would have been free of any suspension and the league would have lost it right to appeal. However, with Robinson recommending six games, it opened the league up to suspend him for as long as they see fit. 

Once again, Watson and Browns fans are left in limbo. Depending on how long this appeal takes to run its course, there is a chance that Watson could begin the year as the Browns’ starting quarterback. If this were to happen, it would likely mean that Watson would end up being out due to suspension if the Browns made it to the playoffs.  

Expected New Suspension

As previously mentioned, the ball is in the league’s court to make the final decision on the Watson case. The things that Watson has been accused of are despicable and many are reminding the league of this. A six-game suspension has been overwhelmingly received poorly by fans across the league and the NFL is being torn apart from the public. With the NFL having a shotty track record at best with the media, throwing the book at Watson will give them the chance to be seen in a positive light. After the way that they handled the Ray Rice case, the Collin Kaepernick situation, and many other mishaps, this is a golden opportunity for the league to do the right thing. It has been officially reported that the league is going to push for an indefinite suspension. This would keep Watson out of the league until further notice. Likely they would reinstate him once all of his lawsuits are settled. However, there is also a chance that the league is starting with the most extreme punishment possible to leave some wiggle room in negotiations. When the smoke settles and a ruling is given out, it would be fair to expect a 12-game to a one-year suspension. 

What Do the Cleveland Browns Do?

The Browns are now stuck in a state of limbo. Unless the appeal process concludes before the beginning of the season, Watson could still start at quarterback for the team. This is what Tom Brady did while a member of the New England Patriots in the 2015 season. If that is the case, the Browns should have no problem putting up a stellar record early in the season. Even if Watson’s suspension were to stay at six games, they would still be in great shape with backup Jacoby Brissett starting through the suspension. However, if Brissett is the starter through the back end of the Browns’ schedule, things could take a turn for the worse.