Mark Madden: NFL seems to be buying time with Deshaun Watson investigation

Deshaun Watson is scheduled to have a disciplinary hearing Tuesday.

Why? What’s the hearing for? Watson’s lurid story has been known for over a year. The NFL has presumably been investigating that long. Watson said he’s done nothing wrong and has no regrets, so we know his side. This isn’t bargaining for leniency. Watson already tried that.

Sue L. Robinson is the NFL’s disciplinary officer, as agreed upon by the league and the NFL Players Association. But she’s got to already know all about the case.

This isn’t an episode of “Law and Order: SVU.” A surprise witness won’t burst in to swing the decision one way or the other.

It’s like the NFL is buying time. But to what end? (After the decision is made, Watson will doubtless appeal. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell can hear the appeal, or he can appoint somebody independent to do so.)

Suspend Watson for the season and be done with it. (If Watson gets banned for the season, his entire contract gets pushed back a year. That’s good. Watson’s deal appeared suspension-proof because his first-year salary is just $1 million. Out of $230 million guaranteed.)

As this space has mentioned, it is nuts that Watson still might play in the NFL this year. Colin Kaepernick took a very reasonable stand that much of America sympathized with. Even more respected his right to do so. But Kaepernick lost his career. Another crap decision made by old, white men.

The NFL is too big to fail. Absurdities like this prove it.

Watson has settled 20 of his 24 lawsuits. But the NFL should not go easy on him because of that. The NFL didn’t go easy on Ben Roethlisberger, who had a fraction of Watson’s difficulties.

This space has also mentioned the stupidity of the Browns for acquiring Watson, and the price they paid both Houston and Watson. (That stupidity can’t be mentioned enough.)

But when Watson’s suspension turns out to be lengthy, a solution is available.

Tell Baker Mayfield he’s got to play, or he doesn’t get paid.

Mayfield has one year left on his contract, with a fully guaranteed salary of $18.86 million. Cleveland is trying to trade him, and Seattle might be interested, but the Browns would likely have to pick up half of Mayfield’s paycheck just to get him off their hands.

That being the case, and given Watson’s situation, tell Mayfield he’s got to play.

Mayfield could say no, but then the Browns get his entire paycheck off their hands. (The salary cap is a different story.) If Mayfield is asked to play and won’t, he doesn’t get his money.

Asking Mayfield to play would add to the heaping disrespect the Browns have already piled on the former first overall pick, especially given that Mayfield played hurt last season and gave the Browns the only stability they’ve had at quarterback since re-entering the NFL in 1999.

But a deal’s a deal. It’s what’s best for the team.

Pay Mayfield a bit more. If Mayfield wants to cash in come free agency following the season, having a good year in a familiar offense is better than playing in a new offense or not playing.

By the way, here’s betting Watson gets suspended indefinitely with the ability to reapply for reinstatement after a year. (Not sure how that affects his contract.) Here’s also betting Watson stinks when he finally does play again.