Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson has agreed to settle all but four of the pending civil lawsuits against him that alleged sexual misconduct, attorney Tony Buzbee announced in a statement on Tuesday.
Buzbee represented 24 women that had filed suits against Watson. The financial terms of the settlement were not released. Two more women reportedly are set to file suits. Watson was not charged following a criminal grand jury proceeding in Texas and has maintained his innocence.
Watson remains under NFL investigation and the settlement of the civil suits against him will likely not prevent the league from punishing him under the league’s personal conduct policy, though a trial would have presented an opportunity for more inflammatory details to be revealed publicly.
“Today we have an important announcement about these cases, but it is important to point out that, without Ashley Solis, the conduct experienced by these women would likely have continued unfettered,” Buzbee said in a statement. “The truth is, without her courage and willingness to come forward, the NFL wouldn’t currently be contemplating discipline; there would be no examination of how teams might knowingly or unknowingly enable certain behavior; sports teams wouldn’t be reviewing their personnel screening processes; and this important story wouldn’t have dominated the sports headlines for more than a year.”
Watson was with the Houston Texans when the alleged acts occurred, but after he was not charged in criminal proceedings this spring, Houston made good on his request to be traded by sending him to Cleveland in exchange for three first-round picks, one third-round pick and two fourth-round picks.
The Browns then signed Watson to a new five-year, $230 million contract that is structured in such a way as to minimize the potential salary impacts of Watson potentially serving a suspension in the 2022 season.
The NFL has reportedly been considering a season-long suspension for Watson, while the NFLPA plans to vigorously defend the player, citing a lack of punishment for owners and executives for similar acts.