As part of the settlement, Watson may return for the Browns’ game on Dec. 4 in Houston.
Two weeks ago, NFL officials decided to appeal a six-game suspension a disciplinary officer imposed on Watson. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell designated Hon. Peter Harvey to hear the appeal.
Watson and the NFL players union did not appeal the suspension.
Harvey is the former attorney general of New Jersey, served as a federal prosecutor, and has “deep expertise in criminal law, including domestic violence and sexual assault,” the NFL said.
Twenty-four women filed lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual misconduct during massages. All but one of those lawsuits have been settled.
The NFL initially asked for an indefinite suspension of at least a year during Watson’s three-day disciplinary hearing. The NFL argued for an unprecedented punishment and wanted to fine Watson at least $5 million, a person familiar with the discussions told the AP on condition of anonymity because the hearing was private.
Watson, who previously denied the allegations against him, apologized last week “to all the women I have impacted.”
“Look, I want to say that I’m truly sorry to all of the women that I have impacted in this situation,” Watson said in a pregame TV interview. “The decisions that I made in my life that put me in this position I would definitely like to have back, but I want to continue to move forward and grow and learn and show that I am a true person of character and I am going to keep pushing forward.”
Watson has continued to practice and played in Cleveland’s first preseason game against Jacksonville last week, going one-for-five for seven yards. Cleveland traded three first-round picks to Houston for Watson in March and signed him to a five-year, $230 million contract.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.