“I’ve Never Done The Things That These People Are Alleging” | Deshaun Watson Addresses Media In Cleveland After Second Grand Jury Declines To Charge

(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson addressed the media on Friday, one day after a second grand jury in Texas declined to bring sexual misconduct charges against him. Watson said he understands the seriousness of the allegations levied against him but maintains he never assaulted any woman.

“I’ve never done the things that these people are alleging,” said Watson.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans last week for three first-round picks and three other draft selections. The Browns also gave Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money on a single contract in NFL history by $80 million.

Since the criminal charges have been dropped Watson will not be facing any prison time. The civil suits are still pending, but based on his comments to the media on Friday, it doesn’t appear he plans on settling with any of the complainants.

Watson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin has said that any sexual acts that occurred during massage appointments were consensual.

“We are thrilled that the Brazoria County grand jury cleared Deshaun Watson of the one remaining criminal allegation,” Hardin said in a statement Thursday. “We’ve known all along what people who learn the facts also know — Deshaun committed no crimes.”

While Watson won’t face any criminal charges or prison time, the NFL could still to choose to suspend him at the conclusion of their investigation. He could face a minimum six-game suspension if it is found that he violated the league’s code of conduct policy.

According to multiple reports Watson’s new deal is structured so that he will make roughly $1 million in his base salary for 2022. So if he is suspended for violating the code of conduct policy related to sexual assault, he would lose less than $60,000 per game in salary.

What will be interesting is, if at the conclusion of league’s investigation it’s determined that Watson violated the league’s code of conduct policy. How is it the league uncovered something that the Browns didn’t during their “comprehensive evaluation process”?

Nobody should be surprised if that turns out to be the case. The Browns don’t care about anything except making money and winning games. All they needed to trade for him was the guarantee that he would avoid jail. Thirteen other teams were reportedly interested in acquiring Watson.

The size of Watson’s deal and the fact that its 100 percent guaranteed is also a reflection of the scarcity that exists at the position. Watson is perhaps the third-best quarterback in his division? Maybe the fifth- or sixth-best in the conference?

But if you have a shot at a 26-year-old three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, you have to do it, right?

We’ve seen this play from the NFL playbook before. There will be initial noise around Watson at training camp and in the preseason. If the league comes back with nothing, it will be business as usual.

If he’s suspended the noise will drag on through the suspension and for the first few weeks following his return. But if it’s one thing fans and NFL media have proved over the years, is that once the games are here that’s all they care about.