When the NFL announced Watson's punishment on Thursday, one key part of the deal was noted by Roger Goodell. "This settlement requires compliance with a professional evaluation and treatment plan," the commissioner said.
So what exactly does that mean?
According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the evaluation and treatment plan will be handled by "a third-party behavioral expert" and if Watson wants to get reinstated, he'll have to comply with any recommendations made by the expert. If Watson doesn't comply, "his reinstatement could be delayed," which could lead to a suspension that lasts longer than 11 games.
It's not clear what a behavioral expert will want to see from Watson, but if the quarterback is asked to show remorse, that could end up being an issue. CBS Sports NFL Insider Jonathan Jones noted on Thursday that one of the NFL's biggest problems with Watson was the fact the quarterback didn't show any remorse for the pain he may have caused the women involved in the 24 sexual assault lawsuits that were filed against them.
When Watson met with the media on Thursday, he once against had a chance to show remorse, but instead, he doubled down on his innocence.
"I'm going to continue to stand on my innocence," Watson told the media Thursday. "Just because settlements and things like that happen doesn't mean that a person is guilty for anything."
Browns owner Dee Haslam was asked if she agreed with the idea that Watson was innocent, and she definitely didn't seem to share his opinion on that.
"We respect his opinion," Haslam said. "I do think in counseling Deshaun will grow to learn a lot more about himself. If you know anything about counseling, it takes a long time to go through that process."
Haslam seemed to insinuate that Watson may not be remorseful now, but he might be after going through the NFL-mandated counseling. As for Watson, not only did he maintain his innocence, but he also added that he'd like to tell his side of the story one day.
"That's definitely the plan, that's definitely the goal," Watson said. "I feel like through this whole process we've been trying to tell my side of the story, but a lot of people didn't really pay too much attention to it."
Although Watson is currently eligible to return to the field in Week 13 against the Texans, that might not end up happening if he doesn't comply with the terms of his NFL-mandated evaluation and treatment recommendations. The problem there is that if he doesn't think he did anything wrong, then he might not think he needs any sort of treatment, which could make it difficult for him to comply with what a behavioral expert asks him to do.