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The quarterback, now with Cleveland after a trade from Houston, will not be indicted on criminal sexual misconduct charges brought by 22 women. He still faces 22 civil lawsuits.
Goodell said “there is no timetable” for the NFL completing its investigation.
“We’re going to let the facts lead us, find every fact we can,” Goodell said. “At least there is a resolution from the criminal side of it. Our investigation hopefully will have access to more information. We will speak to everyone who can give us a perspective.”
As for a potential suspension for Watson, Goodell noted that a discipline officer jointly appointed by the league and players’ union would make that determination. But he dismissed thoughts that Watson would go on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would prevent him from taking part in Browns activities, including games.
Watson sat out the entire 2021 season in Houston, though he remained on the Texans’ roster and was paid. The team chose to make him inactive each week.
“I think at this point, the civil litigation would not trigger that,” Goodell said of the exempt list.
Watson signed a record-setting $230 million, fully guaranteed contract, which includes a $1 million base salary in the first season in the event he’s suspended by the NFL. Asked if that sort of contract disturbed him, Goodell said it would not have an impact on any discipline for Watson.
“The personal conduct policy is very serious to us and it does not need a criminal (indictment),” Goodell noted. “A decision will be made on whether there should be any discipline and what it is.”
In similar past cases involving such civil allegations, Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger sat out four games, then Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott missed six games.