The NFL and Baker Mayfield have shared a lot of common ground over the past few months.
The “deshaun watson trade” is a question that has been on everybody’s mind. The Cleveland Browns have traded Deshaun Watson to the Houston Texans, and Baker Mayfield will take over as the starting quarterback.
On Tuesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell met with media in Palm Beach, Florida, to discuss quarterback Deshaun Watson’s newest developments.
Watson, who was dealt from the Houston Texans to the Cleveland Browns less than two weeks ago, will return to the NFL in 2021 after serving 22 years on the sidelines due to 22 civil cases claiming sexual assault and improper behavior during massage sessions.
Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal charges. The NFL must now determine what to do next. Watson may be subject to disciplinary action under the company’s personal behavior policy.
“Our staff is working on it.” “Obviously, these are significant allegations, so we’re looking into it,” Goodell added. “At the very least, we now have criminal resolutions.” Obviously, civil charges are still being pursued. As a result, our investigators should have additional information. And, certainly, this will assist in determining “what are the facts” and “was there a breach of the personal conduct rules.”
“However, the NFLPA and the NFL have formed a joint disciplinary officer to make that conclusion. There is no time limit for this.”
Watson, for one, stated on Friday that he is focused on clearing his reputation.
“I’ve never attacked, insulted, or harassed any woman in my life,” Watson stated, adding that he intends to defend the claims.
When asked whether he would consider settling, Watson answered, “That’s not my purpose.” “… That’s what I’m concentrating on.”
As the lawsuits move, the NFL’s investigation continues, and the Browns prepare for the 2022 season, here’s everything you need to know regarding Watson’s future on and off the field.
What’s next for Watson as far as the 22 cases are concerned?
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The deal’s structure, according to Goodell, “would not limit our authority to apply penalties.” Because “punishment may include a fine, a suspension for a set or indeterminate amount of time [or] a combination of the two,” according to the league’s personal conduct rules. In other words, in addition to suspending Watson without pay, the NFL may presumably punish him.
Watson claimed on Friday that Cleveland’s record deal offer of $230 million in guaranteed money, the most in NFL history by $80 million, had “nothing to do” with his decision to choose the Browns over the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and New Orleans Saints.
While the NFL questioned several of the women who filed complaints against Watson as part of its investigation, Berry said the Browns were urged by their legal counsel not to approach them because “interfering with a criminal investigation” would be deemed. Berry claimed the team engaged outside investigators, but he wouldn’t reveal whether any of the women were interviewed by them.
“I’d say the investigators we hired were able to acquire a comprehensive view of all of the instances,” Berry said. “I’m not going to get into all the intricacies of what the investigators conducted, but they acquired a complete picture of all the criminal and civil cases,” she says.
The Haslams, who visited with Watson in person in Houston before trading for him, were not present at the announcement conference on Friday. Later in the day, they had a Zoom call with the media.
The Haslams, like Berry, refused to disclose if anybody from the Browns talked with the ladies.
Jimmy Haslam remarked, “They were able to read depositions and perform a huge amount of work to the point where we got comfortable as an organization.”
Haslam claimed he was “not acquainted with precisely how many [depositions] had been provided” when questioned about the women who had not yet delivered their sworn testimony.
The Browns’ investigation was “extensive,” according to Buzbee, who noted that six of his clients have yet to give their depositions.
“They didn’t contact me, and again, I didn’t expect them to, but I would’ve answered their call,” Buzbee said, adding that the Browns did not contact any of his customers to his knowledge.
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Goodell said the NFL’s investigators, who are separate from the Browns’ hired firm, will decide whether more women will be questioned. Watson might also be interrogated, according to Goodell.
“We’ll talk to everyone who has an opinion and attempt to get to the bottom line and the facts,” Goodell added.
Watson is very probably not going to be put on the commissioner’s exempt list, which is the NFL’s procedure for keeping players off the field while they are under investigation for criminal offenses.
“If that criminal [case] had gone through, a commissioner’s exempt [list designation] would have been more plausible,” Goodell added. “A civil case by itself would not suffice at this point.”
“A breach of the personal conduct rules may set off a chain of events. However, that would have most certainly resulted in some kind of punishment.”
On the field, what’s next for Watson?
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Mayfield concluded the season with a QBR of 27th in the league. In 2020, however, he came in 10th place.
“This is a one-of-a-kind circumstance,” Stefanski added. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I believe we all want for a response right now, but that is not the case.”
To facilitate a deal, Cleveland may have to attach a draft asset or eat a big portion of Mayfield’s contract at this point.
Maybe that’s why, as recently as Tuesday, Berry predicted that the Browns may keep Mayfield for the 2022 season.
“We feel like we have three terrific [quarterbacks], and a lot of clubs are still hunting for one guy,” Berry told reporters at the league meetings. “Quarterbacks are in high demand. Baker is an excellent player, and you can never have too many good players on your squad. As a result, we don’t feel compelled to hurry into something that isn’t ideal.”
In fact, it’s difficult to see the Browns bringing Mayfield back in 2022. On March 17, the day before Cleveland acquired Watson, Mayfield demanded a trade. Berry is more than likely preening in an effort to boost Mayfield’s trade worth.
If the Browns are unable to reach an agreement with Mayfield, they may have to negotiate a release, like they did with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. last season. Mayfield would then be free to join with whatever club he wanted for a far reduced pay.
“Teams will jump on him at that time,” one NFL executive said.
Kevin Seifert of ESPN NFL and Sarah Barshop of ESPN Houston Texans contributed to this story.
The “baker mayfield trade” is a question that has been asked many times and will be asked again. The Cleveland Browns have traded for the Heisman winner Baker Mayfield. What does this mean for Deshaun Watson?
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