Talks between the NFL and NFL Players Association on a discipline settlement for Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson have progressed. However, it’s uncertain whether the two sides will reach a deal, two people familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The people spoke to AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.

The sides are seeking a compromise before any punishment is handed down by Peter C. Harvey, a former New Jersey attorney general who was appointed by Commissioner Roger Goodell to rule on the league’s appeal of a six-game suspension already imposed on Watson by an independent disciplinary officer.

Last week, the AP was told Watson was willing to accept an eight-game suspension and $5 million fine. The league has been seeking a lengthier punishment for Watson, who was accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by two dozen women in Texas.

The three-time Pro Bowl QB was allegedly sexually inappropriate with the women during massage therapy appointments while he played for the Houston Texans. Watson settled 23 of 24 civil lawsuits filed by the women.

It’s not known if Harvey is waiting for the sides to exhaust any possibilities of a settlement before ruling.


A settlement could get Watson on the field this season for the Browns, who traded three first-round draft picks – and five overall – for one of the game’s top QBs in March and signed him to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.

Watson has always denied any wrongdoing. Shortly before his debut for the Browns last week, Watson apologized for the first time “to all the women I’ve impacted.”

Watson’s contrition came as Harvey considered the league’s appeal of a ruling by independent arbiter Sue L. Robinson, who found the 26-year-old violated the league’s personal conduct policy with his alleged lewd behavior.

Robinson called his actions “egregious” and predatory, and while she levied a six-game suspension, the league wasn’t satisfied and appealed. The NFL had been seeking a year-long suspension.

For months, the Browns have operated under the assumption Watson would be out for at least part of the 2022 season. Veteran Jacoby Brissett is slotted to start while Watson is out, but a full-season ban could move the team to hit the market for another quality QB.

Following his apology last week, Watson showed rust in an abbreviated preseason appearance in Jacksonville, his first game action in nearly 600 days. Watson badly overthrew his first pass and finished 1 of 5 for 7 yards in three series.


Brissett began getting the majority of work with Cleveland’s first-team offense this week. He’s not expected to play in Sunday’s home exhibition against Philadelphia. Browns Coach Kevin Stefanski hasn’t disclosed the team’s plans for Watson against the Eagles, who will practice with the Browns in Berea, Ohio, on Thursday and Friday.

CHARGERS: Derwin James signed a four-year, $76.5 million contract extension, making him the NFL’s highest-paid safety.

The deal includes $42 million in guaranteed salary. James is going into his fifth season. He did not participate in the first two weeks of practice and took part only in walkthroughs as the two sides worked on an extension.

James’ deal eclipses the four-year, $72.98 million extension Pittsburgh’s Minkah Fitzpatrick signed in June. That included $36 million in guaranteed salary.

James – the defensive signal-caller in the huddle – will be counted on as the leader of a unit that made significant upgrades over the offseason. Los Angeles signed cornerback J.C. Jackson, defensive linemen Sebastian Jones-Day, Austin Johnson and Morgan Fox and edge rusher Kyle Van Noy, along with trading for linebacker Khalil Mack.

JAGUARS: Jacksonville released veteran defensive tackle Malcom Brown, a move that saves $3 million in 2022.


The 28-year-old Brown, the 32nd overall pick by New England in the 2015 draft, was entering the final year of a two-year, $11 million deal. He was scheduled to count $7.5 million against the salary cap this season. Instead, he will cost $4.5 million in dead money.

Brown had fallen behind starting nose tackle DaVon Hamilton and second-year backup Jay Tufele on the depth chart.

BUCS: Tampa Bay signed outside linebacker Carl Nassib, who returns after playing for the Buccaneers in 2018 and 2019.

Nassib joined the Buccaneers in Nashville, Tennessee, where they are practicing ahead of Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Titans.

“He’s a very good pass rusher on the outside and he can also play inside in some nickel situations,” Coach Todd Bowles said. “He has a lot of versatility, he brings a lot of energy, brings a lot of toughness and he understands the system. He was comfortable in it. We look forward to him coming here.”

Outside linebacker Cam Gill is dealing with a Lisfranc injury from the Bucs’ preseason opener.


Nassib spent the past two seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders after playing 29 games with Tampa Bay during 2018 and 2019. Nassib, who became the NFL’s first active player to come out as gay in 2021, started his career with Cleveland after being a third-round draft pick out of Penn State in 2016.

TITANS: Tennessee waived tight end Briley Moore to make room for safety Tyree Gillespie, who was acquired in a trade with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Titans sent a conditional seventh-round draft selection in 2024 to the Raiders for Gillespie.

The 6-foot Gillespie was a fourth-round pick in 2021 and played 11 games as a rookie for the Raiders. He had six special teams tackles along with a couple of tackles on defense.

HALL OF FAME: Super Bowl MVP Chuck Howley and All-Pro defenders Joe Klecko and Ken Riley are finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2023.

The defenders who starred in the 1960s, 70s and 80s were announced as the three senior candidates for next year’s Hall of Fame class from a list of 12 semifinalists. They will get into the Hall if they are supported by at least 80% of voters next January.


Howley began his career with the Chicago Bears in 1958-59 and then played his final 13 seasons for the Dallas Cowboys, with his biggest claim being the only player from a losing team ever picked as Super Bowl MVP.

Howley won MVP after intercepting two passes in Super Bowl V when Dallas lost to Baltimore, 16-13. He ended up on the winning side the following season when he had an interception and fumble recovery in a 24-3 victory over Miami. His three career interceptions are tied for the most in Super Bowl history with Rod Martin and Larry Brown.

Howley was a five-time All-Pro in his 15 seasons, with 25 interceptions and 18 fumble recoveries in 180 games.

Klecko was a mainstay on the Jets’ famed “New York Sack Exchange,” earning Pro Bowl honors at nose tackle, defensive tackle and defensive end in a 12-year career that ended with one season on the Indianapolis Colts.

Klecko was an All-Pro twice, including in 1981 when he unofficially led the NFL with 20 1/2 sacks and finished second to Lawrence Taylor in the Defensive Player of the Year voting. Sacks didn’t become an official stat until the following season.

“You made my day; that’s for sure,” the 68-year-old Klecko said after being given the news in a congratulatory phone call from Hall of Fame President Jim Porter.


“I’ve had too many of them ‘no’ phone calls, and to get this one with a ‘yes’ is just absolutely exciting. … It’s a great time in the Klecko house.”

Riley played his entire 15-year career from 1969-83 at cornerback for the Cincinnati Bengals. A quarterback in college at Florida A&M, Riley excelled in the pros after the position switch.

He had four interceptions as a rookie, a career-high nine in 1976 and eight in his final season when he earned his only first-team All-Pro selection.

Riley’s 65 career interceptions rank fifth highest in NFL history and second to Dick “Night Train” Lane’s 68 for players who were exclusively cornerbacks. His nine seasons with at least four interceptions are tied for the second most in the Super Bowl era.

Riley died at age 72 in 2020.

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