Latest on Deshaun Watson’s settlement negotiations

2:26 p.m.: Rumored to possibly happen Friday, in an effort to keep Watson off the field for the Browns’ preseason opener, Harvey’s appeal ruling might not come until next week. As of this afternoon, there doesn’t appear to be anything coming on that front, Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com tweets. Harvey’s decision almost certainly won’t happen Friday, adds ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (at Twitter). Despite missing at least the Browns’ first six games, Watson is expected to start for his new team against the Jaguars tonight.

1:35 p.m.: Although they have been occurring sporadically for more than two months and have produced no resolution, Watson’s settlement talks are still not off the table. The league and the union should not be excluded, says Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets.

11:50 a.m.: With the Browns set to begin their preseason tonight, a decision from league draftee Peter Harvey could come very soon regarding the NFL’s appeal of Deshaun Watson suspension. Hoping to avoid the league’s desired outcome, the Browns QB is reportedly willing to accept a harsher punishment than the one he originally received.

Watson would be willing to accept an eight-game suspension and a $5 million fine, according to Rob Maaddi and Tom Withers of the Associated Press. As things currently stand, the three-time Pro Bowler will be out for the first six games of the season, and will not face any financial penalties other than the $345,000 in salary he will forfeit as a result.

Trying to find a middle ground between the original ban and what the league is arguing for through its appeal raises the issue of settlement negotiations. The NFL and NFLPA have discussed a compromise at various points in this process, but an agreement that avoids the possibility of further appeals or litigation has never seemed particularly close. The league’s closest offer to what the union could agree to was a 12-game suspension along with a roughly $8 million fine.

According to the AP report, “it is not clear whether the parties are in active discussions” to reach a settlement that would end this saga. Earlier this week, it was reported that a significant increase in Watson’s punishment – ​​which could well manifest itself as Harvey agreeing to the league’s push for an indefinite suspension – was considered likely. The leverage that the NFL is therefore likely to have now could significantly impede further settlement negotiations.

In the event that a longer ban is handed down, the Browns could turn to Jimmy Garoppolo. Cleveland initially seemed committed Jacoby Brissett as a short-term solution, but Watson being sidelined for the entire season — or at least a more significant portion of it — as a result of the appeal could prompt them to trade for the outgoing 49ers signal caller.

The NFL has also tried to have Watson ruled out for preseason action, but with the Browns’ first game now hours away, that seems unlikely. How deep into the autumn he will be banned for, however, there is still much doubt.

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