Two women who have accused Deshaun Watson of inappropriate sexual conduct condemned the Cleveland Browns for giving the quarterback an NFL-record $230 million guaranteed contract after trading for him.
“It’s just like a big ‘screw you,'” Ashley Solis said of the contract in an interview on HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel,” which aired Tuesday. “That’s what it feels like. That we don’t care. He can run and throw, and that’s what we care about.”
Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits from women who have accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct during massage sessions. Two grand juries in Texas have declined to pursue criminal charges, and Watson has denied all wrongdoing.
The NFL is investigating whether Watson violated its code of conduct policy; the league interviewed Watson in person last week as part of its investigation. At the NFL’s spring meeting in Atlanta, commissioner Roger Goodell said he thinks the league is nearing the end of its investigation but couldn’t give a timeline for when a ruling might be made.
In addition to slamming the Browns, Solis told HBO that she felt threatened by Watson after their massage session.
“He just said, ‘I know you have a career to protect,'” she said. “‘And I know you don’t want anyone messing with it just like I don’t want anyone messing with mine.’ To me, that’s when I got really scared.”
The Browns traded for Watson two months ago, sending the Houston Texans a trade package that included three first-round picks to complete the deal. Cleveland then gave Watson a new five-year contract, worth $80 million more than the previous high set when reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers signed his extension with the Green Bay Packers earlier in the offseason.
Kyla Hayes, who has also accused Watson of inappropriate sexual conduct, called the contract “sick.”
“I felt like he’s being rewarded for bad behavior,” she told HBO.
Leah Graham, one of Watson’s attorneys, told HBO that Watson has “no regrets because he did nothing wrong.”
“He did nothing wrong in these massages,” Graham said. “And although — to your first question, ‘How can he be innocent?’ I think the real question is, ‘What evidence is there of any guilt?'”