NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell took questions from the media on Tuesday at the conclusion of the Annual League Meeting on a wide range of topics, including Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, Washington Commanders owner Daniel Snyder and Brian Flores' lawsuit.
Goodell said there is currently no timeline on potential league disciple for Watson, who will not face any criminal charges after two Texas grand juries declined to indict him this month following allegations of sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. The Browns quarterback, acquired on March 18 from the Houston Texans, still faces 22 civil lawsuits and remains under NFL investigation.
"Our people are working on [the investigation]," Goodell said during the meeting held in Palm Beach, Florida. "Obviously, these are serious charges. We're looking at this seriously. We now have obviously at least resolution from the criminal side of it. Obviously there are still civil charges that are going on. So our investigators hopefully will have access to more information, and that will be helpful obviously in getting to the conclusion of what are the facts and was there a violation of the personal-conduct policy. But that determination will be made by a joint disciplinary officer that was established by the NFLPA and the NFL. She will make that decision when the facts are all in, and we'll see. There's no time frame on that."
Goodell said that he does not anticipate Watson being placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List if the investigation remains ongoing closer to the start of the 2022 NFL season because the criminal part of Watson's case has closed.
Goodell also said the league's investigators would determine if he would interview Watson.
"That's something that they will make the determination of when to do that, or who to do that with," Goodell said. "They're the ones that met with some of the people that have information that we want to know. We will speak to everybody who could give us a perspective and try to get to the bottom line and the facts."
As part of his agreement to waive his no-trade clause, Watson received a five-year, fully guaranteed $230 million contract from the Browns. The amount of fully guaranteed money is an NFL record and was a topic of conversation among owners and executives during the league meetings in Florida.
"I'm trying to answer that when I had a reaction to it. And it's like, 'Damn, I wish they hadn't guaranteed the whole contract," Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti, whose team is attempting to sign quarterback Lamar Jackson to an extension, said Tuesday, according to ESPN.com. "I don't know that [Watson] should've been the first guy to get a fully guaranteed contract. To me, that's something that is groundbreaking, and it'll make negotiations harder with others."
Goodell was asked if he was troubled by teams' pursuit of Watson this month -- the Falcons, Saints and Panthers also met with Watson -- and the nature of Watson's deal with the Browns.
"We've been very clear with every club, whether the criminal matter gets resolved or not, the personal-conduct policy is something that's very important to us," Goodell said. "The personal-conduct policy does not need a criminal violation to be a violation of the personal-conduct policy. They recognize that that's something we're going to pursue. We're going to make sure that we get to the bottom of the facts and make sure how it applies to the personal-conduct policy, that's where we are at at this point. And when we get to that, a decision will be made on whether there should be any discipline and, if so, what is it."
Goodell also was asked what Commanders owner Daniel Snyder's current role was with the club. The league fined the Washington franchise $10 million following an investigation into the team's workplace environment, and Snyder indefinitely ceded day-to-day operations of the team to his wife, Tanya. The NFL also is conducting a separate investigation into new allegations of workplace misconduct against Daniel Snyder made by a former team employee.
"Dan Snyder has not been involved in day-to-day operations. I don't believe he's been at the facility at all," Goodell said. "And we continue to have league matters, Tanya has represented the team as the CEO both on a day-to-day basis, but also here at the league. She represented the club [at the Annual League Meeting]. That will continue for at least the foreseeable future. Dan and I will talk about that at some point."
Goodell also was asked if he had an update on the investigation into the tanking allegations made by former Dolphins head coach and current Steelers assistant Brian Flores against Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, and if he planned to meet individually with the involved parties.
"I am not doing that investigation, [former Securities and Exchange Commission chair] Mary Jo White is doing that investigation and she will have our full support and the support of the team," Goodell said. "She will make the determinations on that, and there is no timetable for her to bring that report. When we have it, we will certainly move forward."
Flores filed a federal lawsuit on Feb. 1 against the NFL and three teams -- including the Dolphins -- alleging a pattern of racist hiring practices and racial discrimination, in addition to a separate allegation that Ross offered him money to lose games. Ross has denied the allegations.
During his Super Bowl news conference in February, Goodell said the league would reevaluate everything it is doing as it pertains to diversity and the hiring of minority head coaches. The NFL announced on Monday that teams are now required to hire at least one minority or woman as an offensive assistant, and Goodell acknowledged Tuesday the new mandate gives the league an opportunity to develop a more diverse candidate pool from that side of the ball for potential head-coaching positions.
"I'm not sure I would connect it necessarily to the Rooney Rule," Goodell said. "Our focus and our work over the last several years on this, which has been very important to us, it's looked at the Rooney Rule, it's looked at policies, it's looked at programs, I don't think there's a single answer.
"I think we have complex issues, like society does, but we're going to look for every opportunity to make progress here. I think the offensive assistants is a recognition of the fact that we don't have the number of offensive coordinators that are people of color. We think that's where most of the head coaches, at least the recent years have been a trend, on the offensive side of the ball. And this gives us an opportunity to develop some people in that area. But there was a really open dialogue with clubs, with our owners, with some outside people to really look and say, 'What can we do to try to help solve some of these issues?' As you know, we've also hired a number of outside people who I think are going to be advisors to us that'll look at all of our policies and procedures and make suggestions to them, including on the Rooney Rule."