Did NFL owners go out of their way not to suspend Deshaun Watson for an entire season?
Last week the NFL announced that they were settling Watson’s suspension and only suspending him for 11 games despite initially pushing for a full season suspension.
For his “Football Morning in America” column on Monday, NBC Sports’ Peter King reports that “a prominent team executive” told him that “multiple owners” had spoken to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell about not having Watson suspended for an entire season due it benefitting the Browns in the long-run because of the way Watson’s contract was structured.
I think this comment really surprised me from a prominent team executive the other day: “I think there were multiple owners who didn’t want Deshaun Watson suspended for the season, and told Roger Goodell that.” Hmmmm. Reasoning: If Watson was banned for the year, his contract would have rolled over into 2023, and the Browns would have had him for an extra season—through the 2027 season. By Watson playing part of this season, his contract now expires after the 2026 season, and the Browns will owe him $40 million for being eligible to play a meager six games in 2022. The way NFL contracts work is if a player doesn’t play in a season because he either chooses to sit out or is suspended for the year, the contract “tolls,’’ or is pushed back one season. Watson, of course, was suspended 11 games and fined $5 million on sexual-offense charges.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio confirmed that he had the same thing from people within league circles.
A full-season suspension of Deshaun Watson arguably would have been better for the Browns. Per @peter_king, multiple owners may have pushed for something less than a year, for that very reason. https://t.co/Jv7zmNQwAb
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) August 29, 2022
Some within league circles may have thought the same thing. As noted by Peter King in his new Football Morning in America column, a “prominent team executive” recently said this: “I think there were multiple owners who didn’t want Deshaun Watson suspended for the season, and told Roger Goodell that.”