Yes, settlement talks continue between the NFL and the NFL Players Association in the Deshaun Watson case. This time it is not surprising. That has been the case since late last week.
Appeals officer Peter Harvey, for one reason, did not complete his “expedited” review (by rule) until two weeks after the league’s appeal of the first six-game suspension. He is waiting for the league and union to reach an impasse in their ongoing settlement talks.
Monday’s message was that the settlement remains viable. At this point, if Harvey doesn’t issue a verdict, that means a settlement could happen at any minute. And because the NFL, as a practical matter, controls Harvey, it will wait until the NFL tells it that settlement talks have hit a brick wall.
This is the main thing. There is no judgment until it is settled.
So where could the settlement be? Watson is reportedly willing to accept eight games. The league requires a minimum of 12 games. The obvious middle ground is 10 games, plus a penalty that would change all or part of 2021, taking the full $10 million in salary he received last year.
As previously mentioned, both sides must be committed to selling the public that last year was effectively a paid ban as he did not play in 2021 due to off-field issues. And this is 100% correct. But he was traded to the Dolphins sometime between mid-March and Labor Day weekend for a legal entanglement.
Now, a different deal is microscopic. Will the NFL and NFLPA come to an agreement that would overturn the Harvey decision and in turn be fought in federal court? The possibility of settlement remains until Harvey prevails.
In fact, a settlement is likely even after Harvey makes a decision. But the league would prefer not to stymie the inside gavel with something like a one-year ban and immediately return to 10 or 12 after the union sues. It’s time to settle down before the Harvey regime. And Harvey won’t buy unless there’s a real problem.