Deshaun Watson suspension: What does it mean, what happens next?

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Deshaun Watson suspension: What does it mean, what happens next? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The NFL world woke up to the news of Deshaun Watson’s six-game suspension Monday, with a majority of responses concluding that the Cleveland Browns quarterback ended up with a lighter punishment than expected stemming from sexual misconduct accusations by 24 massage therapists in Texas.

Former U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson, who oversaw the three-day hearing in June, found that Watson had violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

So what happens next on the Deshaun Watson timeline? The union or the league can choose to appeal the six-game suspension and seek a longer punishment. 

Let’s take a look at what the next three days hold for the NFL, Watson and his legal team, and the Browns:  

How long is Deshaun Watson’s suspension?

The current six game suspension could be appealed by the NFL or the union, though the union has said it will not pursue an appeal

If the case is appealed, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is authorized under the collective bargaining agreement to make a final decision on how long Watson should be suspended. Goodell has three days to make such a decision, under the CBA. The deadline can be extended if the union agrees. 

“For now, the NFL and the NFL Players Association have not published the decision. The union responded to our question as to whether the decision will be released by saying that it doesn’t know. The league has not yet responded to an email and a text message raising the question,” NBC’s Mike Florio reported

Here’s just a little bit of what could be at stake if and when Goodell overrules Robinson.

How does Deshaun Watson’s suspension compare to other NFL players in the past?

Many other players have been disciplined under the Personal Conduct Policy in the past, including some suspensions that were indefinite, compared to Watson’s relatively light punishment of six games. 

Earlier this year, New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara was arrested at the Pro Bowl in Las Vegas for an incident at a nightclub, according to multiple reports. 

Some are arguing that Kamara should receive a lighter punishment than Watson:

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was accused of sexually assaulting a college student in a Georgia nightclub, which resulted in a six-game suspension in 2010.

Roethlisberger’s case involved one woman, whereas Watson’s incident included 24 women.

Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins got a 6 game suspension for the upcoming season due to a PED violation.

Other notable incidents include Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley’s suspension indefinitely (through at least the 2022 season) for betting on NFL games and Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott receiving a six-game suspension in 2016 for domestic violence allegations.

How do the Cleveland Browns benefit from the Watson suspension news? 

If Watson serves the recommended six-game suspension without any appeal from the NFL, then the Browns would be deemed one of the bigger winners from Monday’s decision. And that’s because the Browns have an easy schedule for the first six weeks.

Here are their first six matchups of the 2022 regular season:

Sept. 11: Panthers

Sept. 18: Jets

Sept: 22: Steelers

Oct. 2: Falcons

Oct. 9: Chargers

Oct. 16: Patriots

That raised the suspicion of a few conspiracy theorists on Twitter Monday. 

Robinson’s decision also requires Watson only get massages from club personnel:

NFL players react to Watson news

Falcons running back Cordarelle Patterson was quick on the trigger to react to the news, including insisting his teammate Ridley should be relieved of punishment.

Running back Silas Redd Jr., who played with the Washington Redskins from 2014-15, was suspended from the NFL for a year for violating the league's substance-abuse policy.