Second grand jury declines to indict Cleveland Browns QB Deshaun Watson

A second grand jury in Texas declined to indict Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson on Thursday after considering an accusation of sexual misconduct, the Brazoria County District Attorney said.

"After a careful and thorough review of the facts and evidence documented in the reports prepared by the Brazoria County Sheriff's Office and the Houston Police Department, as well as hearing testimony from witnesses, the Grand Jury for Brazoria County has declined to charge Deshaun Watson with any crimes. Accordingly, this matter is closed," Brazoria County District Attorney Tom Selleck said in a statement.

Rusty Hardin, Watson's attorney, said in a statement that he was "thrilled" by the news.

"We've known all along what people who learn the facts also know -- Deshaun committed no crimes. In fact, two separate grand juries have now found that there wasn't even probable cause to believe he committed a crime."

He added: "It is time to let the civil litigation proceed at a normal pace and for Deshaun Watson to take his place as the quarterback of the future for the Browns. I am fully confident that the Cleveland community will discover that Deshaun Watson is not just a great quarterback but also an incredibly decent person they will be proud to have represent their city."

The Browns acquired Watson from the Houston Texans last week for three first-round picks and three other draft selections. The Browns also gave Watson a new five-year contract worth $230 million guaranteed, the most guaranteed money on a single contract in NFL history by $80 million.

In statements announcing the trade Sunday, the Browns called their research and investigation into Watson, including into the allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct against him, "extensive."

"We are acutely aware and empathetic to the highly personal sentiments expressed about this decision," Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in the statement. "Our team's comprehensive evaluation process was of utmost importance due to the sensitive nature of his situation and the complex factors involved. We also understand there are still some legal proceedings that are ongoing and we will respect due process."

The Browns have yet to provide specifics of their investigation. They also didn't speak to any of the 22 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson and accused him of sexual assault and sexual misconduct, according to their attorney, Tony Buzbee said.

"[The Browns] didn't contact me, and again, I didn't expect them to, but I would've taken their call, and if they had specific questions that I could disclose to him, I certainly would've done it," Buzbee told ESPN. "And if they wanted to talk to some of the plaintiffs, I would've made them available just like I did with the NFL, if they wanted to. Ultimately it [would've been] up to the women, but [no team] did that."

Cleveland's announcement of the trade came just nine days after a grand jury in Harris County, where Houston is located, declined to indict Watson on criminal charges after a police investigation sparked by the lawsuits. The allegations in the lawsuits ranged from touching women with his genitals to forced oral sex. Eight of the women who sued Watson filed criminal complaints against him with Houston police and had been set to appear before the grand jury.

Two women who didn't sue Watson also filed police complaints.

The NFL could suspend Watson for a minimum of six games through its code of conduct policy for violations related to sexual assault. The league has previously confirmed in a statement that any trade for Watson would have "no effect on the NFL's ongoing and comprehensive investigation of the serious allegations against Watson. If the league's investigation determines Watson violated the personal conduct policy, discipline may be imposed pursuant to the policy."

A league source told ESPN, however, that as part of Watson's new deal, he will make roughly $1 million in his base salary for 2022. That means if he's suspended by the NFL for violating its code of conduct policy related to sexual assault, he would lose less than $60,000 per game lost.

Buzbee said that he has 17 more depositions of Watson still to take, as part of the 22 lawsuits that have been filed against him alleging sexual assault and inappropriate conduct. Buzbee added that there are four more women who have yet to file suit but whom he expects will do so.

"As far as additional lawsuits, I have been contacted by additional women, who I'm deciding whether I'm going to take their case or somebody else will, that are wanting to file suit against Deshaun Watson," Buzbee said.

The lawyer also said he expects there to be "additional women who file criminal charges."

Watson was in Cleveland on Thursday for a physical. The team plans to introduce him Friday at a news conference scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.

ESPN's Michael Rothstein and John Barr contributed to this report.