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Interesting Punishment Suggested For Deshaun Watson Situation

BEREA, OH - JUNE 14: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during press conference after the Cleveland Browns mandatory minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on June 14, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

BEREA, OH - JUNE 14: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Cleveland Browns listens to questions during press conference after the Cleveland Browns mandatory minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus on June 14, 2022 in Berea, Ohio. (Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns await a ruling on potential discipline for Deshaun Watson. His hearing continues to unfold this week as an independent judge determines whether to punish the quarterback for violating the NFL's personal-conduct policy amid multiple allegations of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

While the league is pushing for a significant suspension, the NFL Players Association will attempt to limit Watson's punishment. Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio proposed a compromise.

"The NFL and the NFL Players Association, acting on Watson’s behalf, could agree that 2021 will be treated as a suspension, with Watson losing the $10 million he was paid," Florio wrote. "Also, he’ll miss eight games to start the 2022 season."

Florio argued that the league could frame this as a stronger, 25-game punishment without pay. Collecting last year's salary would also cover up the bad optics of Watson facing minimal financial punishment because of his new contract's structure.

Although Cleveland gave Watson a record-setting $230 million in guaranteed money, his 2022 base salary accounts for only $1.035 million. That number jumps to $46 million in each of the next four seasons. 

While Watson might have played last season if not for his legal situation, he wasn't suspended or placed on the Commissioner Exempt list. He reportedly told the Houston Texans he wouldn't play for them again before any allegations were made publicly against him.

The Texans would have likely traded him otherwise, but the quarterback appeared willing to hold out. He didn't want to play for them in 2021, and they didn't want Watson there after multiple women filed lawsuits against him for alleged sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions.

Getting Watson to willingly give back $10 million also seems like a major hurdle. Perhaps he'd sacrifice that money to return to the field sooner considering his future salary, but it could derail Florio's idea.