Watson, 26, was found guilty of having violated the NFL’s personal conduct policy after two dozen women had brought forward accusations of sexual misconduct and harassment. Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, who was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFLPA, heard the case and on Monday made her decision public.
While the NFLPA already announced it would not be seeking an appeal, the league might do just that to increase the suspension to its desired length of one year. The NFL would have three days to file such an appeal.
For now, however, Watson is suspended for six games.
A first-round selection by the Houston Texans in 2017, Watson quickly proved himself one of the best young passers in football. After having started 56 games for the organization and leading it to the playoffs twice, however, he requested to be traded.
The Texans did not initially trade him, and the emergence of numerous allegations of sexual harassment did not help the situation get resolved. A grand jury deciding earlier this year that Watson would not face criminal charges pushed the door open for a trade to take place.
He eventually was sent to Cleveland for six draft picks — including three first-round selections — and later received a fully-guaranteed five-year, $230 million contract. As per the terms of that deal, Watson will lose only $333,333 as part of his suspension.
With Watson out for the first six games and former Browns starting quarterback Baker Mayfield traded to the Carolina Panthers, the team will rely on ex-Patriot Jacoby Brissett, Joshua Dobbs and Josh Rosen to lead its offense. As of right now, Brissett appears to be the most realistic candidate to start Week 6 against his former club.