A league appointed judge suspended Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson for six games on Monday, ruling that he violated the league’s personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct.
However, that suspension could be extended should the league and commissioner Roger Goodell choose to appeal, something ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio said is very much on the table.
“The commissioner used to be the judge, jury and executioner. We’ll now he’s the appeals court,” Florio said on KNBR Monday. “That party has the most power, cause he’s got the final say.”
“If the commissioner wants to appeal. Wants to consider the appeal, he can pump it up higher. He can go to 10, 12, whatever he wants, there’s enough there by way of a finding of a violation. That if the league appeals to the commissioner, he can take six and turn it into something more.”
The league has made clear that it believed a one-year suspension was appropriate for Watson, who at one point was accused by 25 women of sexual misconduct during massages. Most of those civil cases have been settled. The latest ruling overseen by independent disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson was concerned with the accusations of four women.
Should the league decide to appeal the ruling and issue a longer suspension, Florio believes the Player’s Association will file a lawsuit. However, that lawsuit is unlikely to be successful. Put simply, if the league wants Watson suspended for a year, he will be.
“Courts aren’t going to get involved in these situations. The league and the union has crafted a policy and a procedure for handling this. They’ve agreed that for example that the commissioner’s got final say and they’re going to have to live with it.”
So, how does this affect the Jimmy Garoppolo situation?
Florio says that the Browns have no interest in Jimmy G unless a suspension is extended well beyond six games. Even so, Florio believes getting a deal done may prove tough.
“I think the Browns are in a tough spot there though. They got a fifth-round pick for Baker Mayfield and they’re paying him $10 million. They would have to give up more than that to get Jimmy Garoppolo and frankly the 49ers would be in a position to leverage them for more if they were interested and he ends up being a replacement for a whole year. I just think they don’t want to go there.”
In fact, Florio believes that Garoppolo is probably going to get cut by SF before Week 1 unless disaster strikes another team in training camp.
“There really has been crickets as it relates to Jimmy Garoppolo. Last week the 49ers basically said to the world ‘make us an offer’, and I’ve yet to hear of anyone making them that offer. I think that the team and the player are going to sit back and ride it out, and see if they get lucky. If there’s a lightning strike in training camp and someone tears an ACL, then there’s demand for Jimmy Garoppolo and he’s going to get closer to the $25 million that he’s on the books for.”
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