Last week, we pointed out that a negotiated resolution of Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson’s discipline was possible, but not likely. The problem was that Watson, as of last week, was determined to clear his name.
With Watson settling 20 of the 24 cases pending against him, that possibly will lay the foundation for a settlement between the league, the union, and Watson.
Josina Anderson of CBS Sports reports that negotiations have indeed occurred. However, talks “fell apart” regarding the extent of the punishment.
Negotiated discipline is not unprecedented. The outcome is announced as the punishment being final, with the player waiving his appeal rights.
Complicating matters for Watson is the fact that there’s no precedent for the new procedure that starts with the NFL proposing a punishment, continues with an independent Disciplinary Officer setting the discipline, if any, and the Commissioner having jurisdiction over any appeal from the player or the team. Unless the Disciplinary Officer decides to impose no discipline at all, Goodell gets the final crack at determining the punishment.
The best outcome for Watson would be to settle everything. Settle the lawsuits. Set the discipline. Serve the suspension. And then come back, play good football, win games, stay out of trouble, and in time much of this incident will be forgotten. Just like it was for Ben Roethlisberger.