Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, center, along with General Manager Andrew Berry, left, and head coach Kevin Stefanski, right, field questions from reporters during Watson's introductory press conference at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility in Berea.

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Reports: Deshaun Watson’s hearing will continue Wednesday

The disciplinary hearing for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson began Tuesday and is expected to resume Wednesday, multiple media outlets reported.

It is unclear how long the proceeding will last or when a ruling will be rendered by Sue L. Robinson, a former U.S. District Court judge who was jointly selected to oversee the case by the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

Watson, 26, has been accused of sexual misconduct during massage sessions that occurred during his time with his former team, the Houston Texans. Twenty-five women have accused him of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior.

Watson, who has denied wrongdoing, has settled 20 of 24 civil lawsuits related to the massage sessions. The Texans organization is also being sued for “enabling” his actions, in part by allegedly providing him with non-disclosure agreements to give to massage therapists.

Per numerous media reports, the NFL is pushing to have him suspended indefinitely, with the minimum length of the punishment one year before he would be eligible to apply for reinstatement.

The Texans held Watson out of action for the entire 2021 season as he was under investigation for criminal wrongdoing. However, he was never indicted, and the Browns acquired him in a March trade, giving up three first-round draft picks.

Cleveland also signed Watson to a five-year contract that will pay him a guaranteed $230 million. However, his salary for 2022 reportedly is just $1 million to protect against the possibility that he could be facing a lengthy suspension.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Attorney files suit against Texans for ‘enabling’ Deshaun Watson

Texas attorney Tony Buzbee filed suit against the Houston Texans on Monday, saying the team “enabled” former quarterback Deshaun Watson’s sexual misconduct against his clients during massage sessions.

Buzbee is representing the remaining four women suing Watson in Harris County, Texas, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Buzbee indicated earlier this month he planned to add the Texans to the litigation. He followed through on that less than a week after settling 20 of 24 cases with Watson. It also comes one day before Watson’s reported hearing with the NFL.

“Today we filed the first case of what will likely be many against the Houston Texans related to Deshaun Watson’s behavior,” Buzbee said in a statement provided to Cleveland.com. “Suffice it to say, the overwhelming evidence collected indicating that the Houston Texans enabled Watson’s behavior is incredibly damning. We believe the Texans knew or most certainly should have known of Watson’s conduct.”

Buzbee cited information gleaned from the Houston Police Department.

The first lawsuit was filed in March 2021, with a flurry of additional women also filing complaints over the following months to bring the total to 24.

The women all allege Watson committed sexual improprieties during the course of a massage. He has denied all accusations, and two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.

The Browns acquired Watson, 26, from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and signed him to a five-year deal with $230 million in guaranteed money.

Watson did not play during the 2021 NFL season. In 2020, the three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and set a career high with 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks to the media after minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Browns QB Deshaun Watson scheduled for disciplinary hearing on Tuesday

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is scheduled to have a hearing with disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson on Tuesday, ESPN reported Saturday.

The hearing will center on the 26 women who accused Watson of unwanted advances and inappropriate sexual conduct during massage appointments during his time with the Houston Texas.

Robinson was jointly appointed by the NFL and NFL Players Association.

The NFL is expected to push for a lengthy suspension of Watson, whose representatives have settled 20 of the 24 civil lawsuits filed against Watson.

The NFLPA will defend Watson during the hearing.

Robinson spent more than 25 years (1991-2017) as a member of Delaware’s district court.

After Robinson makes a ruling, Watson will have the option to appeal any punishment.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could rule on Watson’s appeal or allow an independent arbitrator to make a decision.

Watson has denied the accusations on multiple occasions.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal. Watson didn’t play in 2021 after requesting to be traded from the Texans.

–Field Level Media

Jun 14, 2022; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson talks to the media after minicamp at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Attorney: 20 of 24 cases against Deshaun Watson settled

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has reached confidential settlements with 20 of the 24 massage therapists who filed civil lawsuits against him alleging sexual misconduct, according to the attorney representing the women.

In a statement released Tuesday, Houston attorney Tony Buzbee said those cases will be dismissed as soon as the paperwork is completed.

Buzbee said the lawsuits filed by original complainant Ashley Solis and “three other brave women” have not been settled and their cases will continue.

“I look forward to trying these cases in due course,” Buzbee said.

Watson, 26, has previously denied the accusations made against him.

“I’ve never forced anyone. I’ve never assaulted anyone,” Watson told reporters last week at a Cleveland minicamp. “I’ve been saying it from the beginning and I’m going to continue to say it.”

Solis and the other women suing Watson allege that he committed sexual improprieties during the course of massages. Two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against him earlier this year.

“The cases against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis,” Buzbee’s statement Tuesday began. “… Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson’s original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an ‘asset,’ I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her.

“As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all.”

The Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

The NFL continues to investigate and recently wrapped up its interviews with Watson. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the NFL could suspend him for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

Watson did not play during the 2021 NFL season. In 2020, the three-time Pro Bowl selection led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and set a career high with 33 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson listens to questions during his introductory press conference at the Cleveland Browns Training Facility on Friday.

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Reports: Two more women to sue Deshaun Watson, totaling 26

Two more women are in the process of filing suit against Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, KPRC2 in Houston and CBS Sports reported Monday.

According to CBS, attorney Tony Buzbee said he will be filing a 25th lawsuit “in due course,” while yet another woman came forward to him after watching some of Watson’s accusers speak on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.”

The women all allege Watson committed sexual improprieties during the course of massages. He has denied all accusations, and two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

The New York Times reported last week that Watson met with at least 66 female massage therapists over a period of 17 months while he played for the Houston Texans.

Watson’s defense attorney, Rusty Hardin, recently conceded that Watson had sexual contact with three of the women but claimed all such cases were consensual.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

–Field Level Media

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield laughs as he watches his teammates warm up before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland.

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Browns excuse Baker Mayfield from minicamp

The Cleveland Browns on Wednesday excused quarterback Baker Mayfield from attending next week’s mandatory minicamp.

Per the Browns, it was a “mutual decision and best for both parties.”

The veteran quarterback will not be subject to fines for missing the mandatory session.

Cleveland has been attempting to find a trade partner for Mayfield since acquiring Deshaun Watson in March.

Mayfield, 27, is due a fully guaranteed salary of $18.86 million in 2022, the final season of his rookie contract.

The sticking point in trade talks reportedly has been how much of that salary the Browns are willing to cover.

Mayfield has not attended any of Cleveland’s voluntary workouts this offseason.

Mayfield is 29-30 as a starter since the Browns made him the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. He has completed 61.6 percent of his passes for 14,125 yards, 92 touchdowns and 56 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Mar 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA;  Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson listens to a question during a press conference at the CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Deshaun Watson saw 66 therapists; Texans helped with NDA

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson met at least 66 female massage therapists over a 17-month period, the New York Times reported Tuesday.

In addition to the 24 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson, the number also includes several who sued Watson before withdrawing their complaint; filed criminal complaints but didn’t sue; or neither sued nor pursued criminal charges.

The total also includes at least 15 of the therapists who issued statements of support for Watson at the request of his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, last year.

One woman told the Times that Watson “begged” her to perform oral sex on him.

“I specifically had to say, ‘No, I can’t do that,’” the woman said. “And that’s when I went into asking him, ‘What is it like being famous? Like, what’s going on? You’re about to mess up everything.’”

The Times report also revealed that the Houston Texans’ director of security, Brent Naccara, placed a non-disclosure agreement in Watson’s locker that Watson started bringing with him to massages. It occurred in November 2020, when one of the women presently suing Watson posted Watson’s phone number, some of his texts and Cash App receipts on social media and threatened to “expose” him.

Watson said during a deposition that Naccara provided the NDA. Watson played for the Texans until he was traded to the Browns in March. The Texans did not respond to the Times’ specific questions about Naccara and the NDA.

Watson appeared to reply to the latest report with an Instagram post on Tuesday. He quoted lyrics from the song “Rich Off Pain” by Lil Baby and Lil Durk featuring Rod Wave: “See, the blogs can’t break me down, see, I’m the voice, I don’t reply. But the rumors y’all done heard, I’ma humbly deny, yeah, yeah.”

Two grand juries in Texas declined to indict Watson on criminal charges earlier this year, but in civil court he faces 24 lawsuits, two of which were filed in the past week.

The 24th woman filed suit Monday, saying Watson exposed himself during a massage, asked her an inappropriate question and ejaculated onto her chest and face.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

24th woman sues Browns QB Deshaun Watson

A 24th woman is suing Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, accusing him of sexual misconduct.

Her case was filed Monday morning in Harris County District Court in Houston.

The first lawsuit was filed in March 2021, with a flurry of additional women also filing complaints over the following month to bring the total to 22. Another woman sued Watson last week since the airing of an episode of HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” detailed the case.

The women all allege Watson committed sexual improprieties during the course of a massage. He has denied all accusations, and two grand juries in Texas declined to bring criminal charges against Watson earlier this year.

“The allegations made in this new case are strikingly similar to those made by many of the other victims,” Texas attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the plaintiffs, said in a released statement. “Lost in the media frenzy surrounding Deshaun Watson is that these are twenty-four strong, courageous women who, despite ridicule, legal shenanigans, and intense media scrutiny, continue to stand firm for what is right.

“Setting aside the legal wrangling, the complicity of the NFL, or the failures of the criminal justice system, the resounding story that should be told here is that these women are true heroes. I will say again, our entire team is incredibly proud to represent these women, and we look forward to the day when we can lay out their cases in detail in front of a jury.”

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans in a trade in March and gave him $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal. The team has not commented on the latest case.

The NFL continues to investigate Watson and recently wrapped up interviews with the quarterback. Despite no criminal charges being filed, the league could suspend Watson for violating the league’s personal conduct standards.

–Field Level Media

Cleveland Browns running back D'Ernest Johnson (30) rushes for a short gain during the second half of an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022, in Cleveland, Ohio. [Jeff Lange/Beacon Journal]

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Reports: Browns agree to one-year deal with RB D’Ernest Johnson

The Cleveland Browns agreed to a one-year, $2.43 million deal with running back D’Ernest Johnson, according to multiple reports on Saturday.

Johnson will reportedly have more than $900,000 of his contract guaranteed.

Johnson, 26, was a restricted free agent and was checking into other possibilities before agreeing to return to the Browns. He is slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

Though he is Cleveland’s third-string back behind Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Johnson asserted himself when he got opportunities to play last season.

After receiving three carries over the first six games, he rushed for 146 yards and a touchdown on 22 carries in a memorable Thursday night starting performance against the Denver Broncos. Cleveland won 17-14.

He received another start against the New England Patriots on Nov. 14 and gained 99 yards on 19 carries. Then in the regular-season finale, he came off the bench to rush for 123 yards and one score against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Overall, Johnson rushed for 534 yards and three scores on 100 carries and also caught 19 passes for 137 yards last season.

In three seasons with the Browns, Johnson has rushed for 721 yards and three touchdowns and caught 28 passes for 222 yards.

–Field Level Media

May 25, 2022; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass during organized team activities at CrossCountry Mortgage Campus. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson faces 23rd civil lawsuit for sexual misconduct

Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson is facing a 23rd active civil lawsuit, filed Tuesday by attorney Tony Buzbee on behalf of a plaintiff in Texas.

The plaintiff said that Watson’s legal team made “an effort to intimidate her” by reaching out and saying that Watson’s lawyers would fight the cases. She did not decide to file suit originally, but changed her mind, according to the suit, after two of Watson’s accusers appeared on HBO’s “Real Sports” last week.

“In that piece, plaintiff was struck by the courage of the victims willing to step forward and speak and was extremely displeased by Watson and his legal team’s mistreatment and revictimizations of the plaintiffs,” the lawsuit stated. “But it was Watson himself claiming that even now he has ‘no regrets’ and has done nothing wrong that solidified her resolve. She brings this case seeking minimum compensation, but to obtain a court finding that Watson’s conduct was wrong.”

The plaintiff said she began working as a massage therapist for Watson in the summer of 2020. Watson allegedly exposed himself to the plaintiff during the third and final session, touched her between her legs and “repeatedly requested” to have sex.

Two Texas grand juries declined to indict Watson in March. The Houston Texans traded him to Cleveland that month, and the Browns gave him a record $230 million in guaranteed money on a five-year deal.

“Today we filed suit for the 23rd plaintiff in this litigation,” Buzbee said in a statement. “Other cases may come. The Watson defense team has vilified these women and this cause. Shame on them! We look forward to trying this case in court.”

According to ESPN, the Browns did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the latest suit.

–Field Level Media