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HOUSTON — Deshaun Watson offered a $100,000 settlement figure to each of the 22 women who filed civil lawsuits against him last spring, according to the most recent litigation brought against him this week.
Attorney Tony Buzbee made the claim in the 23rd civil suit filed against Watson on Tuesday, in a footnote pertaining to a meeting between Watson’s defense attorneys and Nia Smith, the Houston cosmetologist who has brought the most recent litigation against the Cleveland Browns quarterback. In the lawsuit, Buzbee claims that during a meeting in which Smith believed Watson’s lawyers were trying to “intimidate” her, they said they planned to “fight the [civil] cases to the fullest extent.” Buzbee added a notation to that line, which alleged that Watson instead had attempted to settle the suits out of court.
“Of course, we now know that Deshaun Watson offered each Plaintiff $100,000 to settle their cases,” the notation states. “[B]ut not all would accept that amount, due to the aggressive nondisclosure agreement that Watson’s team proposed.”
Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegation.
Pro Football Talk was the first outlet to report the notation Thursday. It was also previously reported that 18 of Watson’s initial 22 accusers agreed to a global settlement, but the negotiation ultimately broke off when four women declined to take part.
Watson told reporters in late May that no settlement talks were currently taking place in relation to any of his civil suits, which are alleging a range of sexual misconduct or sexual assault. But multiple sources have told Yahoo Sports there was settlement dialogue between Watson’s attorneys and Buzbee at various points after the initial 22 suits were filed. That included prior to the start of last season and in the run-up to the NFL trade deadline, when the Miami Dolphins expressed interest in acquiring Watson if he were able to obtain a global settlement with all of his accusers.
That attempt failed, setting the stage for Watson’s eventual trade to the Browns nearly five months later.
At the NFL owners' spring meetings last month, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league's investigation of Watson was "nearing the end" in its determination of whether the QB violated the league's personal conduct policy.