How long could Deshaun Watson's suspension possibly be with reports of 24th civil lawsuit?

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout

The Cleveland Browns made a bold decision earlier this offseason to not only trade for Deshaun Watson, but to sign him to a fully-guaranteed $230 million deal as well. It was a monumental move and one that raised plenty of eyebrows.

Without any context, it looks like a great move. The Browns finally got their long-awaited franchise quarterback. But the situation is not that simple. At the time, the quarterback was cleared of any criminal charges for alleged sexual assault and misconduct. However, he faced over 20 civil lawsuits.

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That number is now up to 24 as yet another lawsuit was filed this week. The disturbing allegations follow the pattern of the previous suits and this may not even be the end of it yet.

The unique thing about the 24th suit is that it is from an individual previously unknown by Watson's lawyer and by the NFL. So if the quarterback has not been truthful, that may change his potential punishment from the league. So just how long could a suspension be after this latest lawsuit?

Deshaun Watson may not play at all in 2022

Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout
Cleveland Browns Offseason Workout

The situation continues to look worse and worse for the quarterback. At the time of the trade, the Browns must have felt only a short suspension was on the table. Otherwise, why sign him to such a massive deal?

Yet things are different now. The NFL is in a tricky spot as the allegations continue to roll out. Who is to say a 25th won't come out later this week? Or after any suspension is handed out?

The last thing the league wants is to hand out a small suspension, only to have more allegations filed out once a decision has been made. That brings the reality of an indefinite suspension into play. Doing that would mean the league can continue its own investigation without assigning a game total to Watson.

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This, in turn, allows the league to see how the civil lawsuits play out in 2023. Of course, the flip side to this is the NFL not handing out any suspension at all. That remains a possibility, but an unlikely one given just how disturbing the allegations continue to be.

But let's say the NFL does want a specific number of games. At this point, four may be too light. So what’s next? Eight is a serious ban, while something like 12 derails the Browns' season. Yet if they go a full 12, the team may not even start him upon his return.

The general takeaway here is that the Browns got themselves into a huge mess. Even if Watson is suspended indefinitely, the team may be on the hook for money down the line because of the fully-guaranteed deal. This may be enough for fans to finally turn on their ownership enough to force real change.

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Edited by John Maxwell