Sue L. Robinson, the hearing officer, asked for post-hearing briefs by the week of July 11, ESPN reported.
Robinson, a former U.S. District Court judge who was jointly selected to oversee the case by the NFL and the NFL Players Association, is expected to “take her time” in ruling, ESPN reported. All parties reportedly expect a ruling before the Browns report to training camp on July 26.
Watson, 26, has been accused of sexual misconduct during massage sessions that occurred during his time with his former team, the Houston Texans. Twenty-six women have accused him of actions ranging from sexual assault to inappropriate behavior.
Watson, who has denied wrongdoing, has settled 20 of 24 civil lawsuits related to the massage sessions. The Texans’ organization is also being sued for “enabling” his actions, in part by allegedly providing him with non-disclosure agreements to give to massage therapists.
Per numerous reports, the NFL is pushing to have him suspended indefinitely, with the minimum length of the punishment one year before he would be eligible to apply for reinstatement.
The Texans held Watson out of action for the entire 2021 season as he was under investigation for criminal wrongdoing. However, he was never indicted, and the Browns acquired him in a March trade, giving up three first-round draft picks.
Cleveland also signed Watson to a five-year contract that will pay him a guaranteed $230 million. However, his salary for 2022 reportedly is just $1 million to protect against the possibility that he could be facing a lengthy suspension.