CLEVELAND — The legal concerns continue to mount for Deshaun Watson.
According to NBC affiliate KPRC in Houston, two additional women are preparing to file sexual misconduct lawsuits against the embattled Browns quarterback. If true, this would bring the total number of civil suits against Watson to 26.
Two dozen current or former massage therapists in the Houston area have already formally accused Watson of various forms of sexual harassment or assault, claiming the behavior took place during massage appointments over a months-long period when Watson was still playing for the Houston Texans. Watson has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and back in March multiple Texas grand juries declined to indict the 26-year-old on criminal charges.
Following those proceedings, the Browns acquired Watson from the Texans in exchange for multiple draft picks and subsequently signed him to a new contract worth an NFL record $230 million guaranteed. The team's front office has maintained it did its due diligence in pursuing the trade, with general manager Andrew Berry in particular saying he was "comfortable" with Watson being the new QB.
Watson did not play at all in 2021 as the Texans worked to balance both his request to be traded as well as the allegations against him. However, the NFL could still potentially issue its own discipline, and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio believes anything from paid leave to a lengthy suspension is on the table.
"At the end of the day, the personal conduct policy isn't a justice system," Florio told 3News' Jim Donovan last week. "It's a device for ensuring that whatever the NFL does to a player who gets in trouble away from work meshes with expectations."
All of the women suing Watson are being represented by Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee, who has said he will be adding the Texans as a defendant in the complaints following reports the team provided Watson with both a hotel room and an NDA he later used for massage sessions. Rusty Hardin, the leader of Watson's legal team, has stated his client "did nothing illegal" and "has always acknowledged consensual sexual activity with three of the  plaintiff massage therapists after massages."