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NFL, Deshaun Watson not currently talking about a settlement

Mike Florio discusses Judge Robinson's upcoming verdict regarding Deshaun Watson's punishment and how the NFL can use this to impose a worse sanction.

As sports media navigates its way through the task of generating content in the slow time for the NFL, it’s important to try to separate the news from the not news.

Recent comments from Dan Graziano of regarding the prospect of a settlement between the NFL and Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson are not news. Graziano, based on what he said and how he said it, wasn’t trying to make it news. He was just answering a question regarding the potential for a resolution.

Appearing on ESPN Radio, Graziano explained that the two sides had settlement talks during the hearing. He said, as have others, that the league had been pushing for an indefinite suspension of at least one year. Graziano mentioned at one point, by way of further elaboration, that the league at one point had moved the needle for the minimum suspension in Watson’s direction.

“They weren’t able to come close enough late last week,” Graziano said. “The league is still insisting from what I’ve been told on an indefinite suspension that would allow Watson to . . . apply for reinstatement after a certain period of time. Initially they wanted that period to be a year but they moved a little closer to Watson and were talking about, ‘You know, you can reapply after 12 games,’ for example. But Watson is still not interested in signing up for that indefinite suspension.”

It’s important to remember that Graziano isn’t claiming that an offer of 12 games plus an open door for more is even on the table. It wouldn’t matter if it was; Watson didn’t want it.

Now that the hearing is over, Watson’s team is focused on persuading Judge Sue L. Robinson to not suspend him at all. As one source with knowledge of the dynamics pegged the potential for a settlement along the lines that Graziano discussed, “We are far past that point.”

Per multiple sources, currently there are no talks. Another source said that, based on the evidence and argument at the hearing, a 12-game, open-ended suspension would not be a serious offer.

Yes, talks could resume at any time. As recently explained, the league will have a hard time settling the case before Judge Robinson issues a ruling, because the league can’t afford to be perceived as being too lenient when it comes to Watson, given that the mishandling of the Ray Rice situation nearly brought down the house in 2014. There’s another reason, however, for the league to perhaps settle this before a ruling is issued by Judge Robinson. But I’ll hold that for a separate post.

After all, we’re also navigating our way through the task of generating content in a slow time for the NFL.