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Roger Goodell Rules Out 1 Potential Punishment For Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson introduced as Browns quarterback.

BEREA, OHIO - MARCH 25: Quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during a press conference at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on March 25, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will not use the Commissioner Exempt List as a mode of punishment for Deshaun Watson this coming season.

On Tuesday, Goodell said that because two grand juries elected to not criminally charge Watson, he will not be subject to this list.

That being said, the recently-signed Cleveland Browns quarterback is still subject to suspension under the league's Personal Conduct Policy.

“The civil cases were in play over the last year,” Goodell said, per NBC's Pro Football Talk. “The only thing that’s changed is the criminal element has been at least resolved, and that was an important element in the context of the Commissioner Exempt List as discussed with the Players Association. So that was an important (decision as it relates to the Commissioner Exempt List).

“If the criminal had proceeded, that more than likely would have triggered the Commissioner Exempt. I think at this point, the civil case in and of itself would not do that. If there’s a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, that may trigger something, but that more than likely trigger some kind of discipline in some fashion.”

Though Watson has not been handed any criminal charges, he still faces 22 civil cases of alleged sexual assault and misconduct. These allegations are expected to yield some punishment under the NFL's Personal Conduct Policy.

“The Personal Conduct Policy is something that is very important to us, so the Personal Conduct Policy does not need a criminal violation to be a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy,” Goodell said. “So they recognize that that’s something we’re going to pursue. We’re going to make sure that we get to the bottom of the facts and make sure how it applies to the Personal Conduct Policy. That’s where we are at this point. When we get to that, a decision will be made whether there should be discipline and if so what is it.”

The NFL is currently conducting an investigation of its own.

Goodell says there's no timetable for a decision on Watson's 2022 fate.

“Our people are working on it,” he added. “Obviously, these are serious charges. We’re looking at this seriously. We now have obviously, at least on the criminal side of it, obviously there are still civil charges that are going on, so our investigators hopefully will have access to more information and that will be helpful obviously at getting to the conclusion of what are the facts and was there a violation of the Personal Conduct Policy, but that determination will be made by a joint discipline officer established by the NFLPA and the NFL... There’s no timeframe on that.”

The Texans made Watson inactive for each of their games this past season. The 26-year-old QB was traded to Cleveland on March 18 and signed a record-breaking deal with the Browns organization.

As part of his fully-guaranteed, $230 million contract, Watson is set to earn just $1 million in base salary this coming season -- making any possible suspension in Year 1 less monetarily taxing for the young QB.