Former Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson appears to have taken another step in moving past the legal troubles that have dogged him and left his NFL career up in the air.
Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee, who represents 24 massage therapists suing Watson for sexual misconduct, announced Tuesday that the quarterback and all but four of his clients have reached an out-of-court settlement. The details of the settlements were not released.
“Today, I announce that all cases against Deshaun Watson, with the exception of four, have settled,” Buzbee said in a released statement. “We are working through the paperwork related to those settlements. Once we have done so, those particular cases will be dismissed. The terms and amounts of the settlements are confidential. We won’t comment further on the settlements or those cases.”
The settlement comes amid daily headlines about more lawsuits coming from massage therapists who treated Watson and also as speculation mounts about the length of a suspension Watson could be facing from the NFL. Watson has been traded to the Cleveland Browns and signed an NFL-record $230 million guaranteed deal with his new team.
But Watson’s legal issues are not over. There are four lawsuits pending, including the original plaintiff, Ashley Solis. Two grand juries, however, declined to indict Watson on any criminal charges.
“Ashley Solis is one of the heroes of this story,” Buzbee said in his statement. “Her case has not settled and thus her story and that of the other three brave women will continue,” said Buzbee. “I look forward to trying these cases in due course, consistent with other docket obligations and the court’s schedule.”
In addition to the pending lawsuits, Watson is awaiting the punishment to be leveled by the league and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. There has been speculation Watson, who sat out all last season with the Texans, could be looking at a year suspension before the start of the Browns’ training camp.
Watson, who has steadfastly professed his innocence and vowed to clear his name, is alleged to have solicited sex from several massage therapists over a span of 17 months. A recent New York Times article reported Watson saw 66 massage therapists during that time.
The first lawsuits against Watson emerged during the offseason in 2021 and they have continued coming, even after Watson joined the Browns this offseason. The timing of the lawsuits, all brought by Buzbee, coincided with Watson’s demand for a trade after the Texans’ owner went back on his work to give the quarterback a say in the hiring of the next head coach and general manager.
Buzbee originally approached Watson about his client Solis, but at the time Watson declined any sort of out-of-court agreement. Once Buzbee filed the initial lawsuit, more plaintiffs surfaced.
Earlier this month, Buzbee also named the Texans in the lawsuit after it was alleged the team helped facilitate some of the massage therapy sessions offsite and also supplied Watson with non-disclosure documents.
“The case against Deshaun Watson started with one phone call, from one brave and strong woman. That woman was Ashley Solis,” Buzbee also said in his statement. “Even though she was originally turned away by our screening process, my staff insisted that I personally speak with her. I’m glad she persisted. Once we took a second look, and after having contact with Watson’s original lawyer who disrespected Ashley and her profession and who arrogantly minimized the conduct of someone he referred to as an ‘asset,’ I was convinced that our law firm should try to help her.
“As a result of Ashley’s lone but brave voice, soon many women who had allegedly experienced the same conduct were emboldened to step forward. I am incredibly proud to represent them all. They have endured vile criticism and fanatical ignorance. They faced withering cross examination by skilled litigators and stood firm. They are warriors all.”