Nike has suspended its endorsement contract with Deshaun Watson amid allegations of sexual assault and harassment against the Houston Texans quarterback.

“We are deeply concerned by the disturbing allegations and have suspended Deshaun Watson,” Nike said in a statement released Wednesday. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation.”

Watson has been accused of sexual assault or harassment in lawsuits filed by 22 women. One of those women, Ashley Solis, said Tuesday during a news conference that she was assaulted and traumatized when she tried to give Watson a massage in March 2020.

The Associated Press usually does not name victims of sexual assault, but Solis has chosen to publicly identify herself.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, has called the allegations “meritless” and questioned the claims against Watson, alleging they were made following a failed attempt to blackmail his client.

The Houston Police Department said last week it was investigating Watson after someone had filed a report with the agency about Watson. Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 women, said it was not Solis but another of his clients who filed the first report with police.

The NFL has been in contact with Buzbee during its own investigation.

Solis said in her statement that since the alleged assault, she suffers from panic attacks, anxiety, depression and is no longer comfortable working as a massage therapist.

“I got into massage therapy to heal people, to heal their minds and bodies, to bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that,” Solis said, adding that her lawsuit was not about seeking money.

But in a statement, Hardin alleged that Buzbee sought “$100,000 in hush money” on behalf of Solis before she filed her lawsuit.

BENGALS: Cincinnati continued to part with veterans when it released running back Giovani Bernard on Wednesday.

Bernard, a fan favorite who had a year left on a two-year contract that would have paid him $4.1 million in 2021, played his entire eight-year NFL career in Cincinnati and established himself as a reliable blocking back and receiver. The 29-year-old Bernard became a starter for the last 10 games of 2020 after Joe Mixon suffered a foot injury.

A 2013 second-round draft pick by the Bengals, he played in 115 games with 30 starts, rushing for 3,697 yards and 22 touchdowns. His 342 receptions are the most by a running back in Bengals history, and his 2,867 receiving yards are the second most.

The Bengals had already traded defensive end Carlos Dunlap in midseason last year and released defensive tackle Geno Atkins last month. Both had been with the Bengals for 11 seasons. Receiver A.J. Green, who’d spent his entire 10-year career with the team, signed with Arizona as a free agent. Cincinnati let Bernard go after extending the contract of feature back Mixon last fall with a four-year, $48 million deal and the re-signing of Samaje Perine, who played in all 16 games last year, to a two-year pact.

TITANS: Tennessee hired veteran defensive coordinator and former Lions head coach Jim Schwartz as a senior defensive assistant.

Schwartz has been defensive coordinator for 14 NFL seasons, the last five with Philadelphia. The Eagles ranked third in the NFL last season with 49 sacks, a category the Titans ranked ahead of only Jacksonville and Cincinnati in last season. The Eagles ranked seventh in sacks through his five seasons.

BILLS: Buffalo agreed to sign guard Forrest Lamp to a one-year contract on Wednesday in continuing a series of offseason moves to add experienced offensive line depth.

Lamp spent the past four seasons with the Chargers, and was one of two Los Angeles linemen to play every offensive snap last season. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 310 pounds, Lamp was selected in the second round of the 2017 draft out of Western Kentucky.

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