According to text messages and audio recordings obtained by ESPN, a member of the legal team representing Deshaun Watson’s accusers in 22 different lawsuits alleging sexual assault, has reached out to the quarterback’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, in hopes of reaching a financial settlement. Per ESPN Texans reporter Sarah Barshop, the lawyer approached Watson’s camp, requesting they discuss “working things out.”
Contrary to statements made by Hardin earlier this week, Tony Buzbee, who serves as legal counsel for all 22 of Watson’s accusers, denies his side is looking to settle. Buzbee has also been adamant that, among lawyers in his firm, only he has the authority to broker settlement talks.
Aside from his pending civil cases, the NFL has launched its own investigation into claims of sexual misconduct against Watson, interviewing at least four of his accusers. Buzbee didn’t seem overly encouraged by how those interviews went, suggesting the women didn’t feel “respected” during their sit-downs with lead investigator Lisa Friel.
Even if Watson is able to settle his lawsuits without going to court, the 25-year-old could still be on the hook for a lengthy suspension, among other punishments, if the NFL determines he violated the league’s code of conduct. The Texans' additions of Tyrod Taylor and third-round pick Davis Mills would suggest they aren’t banking on Watson being available any time soon. Frustrated by Houston’s recent coaching and front office hires, Watson had sought a trade earlier this offseason, though that seems unlikely to transpire, at least until teams gain a clearer idea of where the Pro Bowler stands in his various legal proceedings.