Deshaun Watson insists the only reason he contacted massage therapists over social media is because his usual masseuse couldn't work on him due to the COVID pandemic.
Multiple sources connected to Watson tell us ... the NFL superstar is still adamant he did NOT sexually assault any of the women making claims against him.
He's obviously been following the story ... but strongly disputes the claims made by attorney Tony Buzbee, who claims to be talking with 22 women who say they were violated by Watson.
Most of the women who have filed lawsuits claim Watson first contacted them on Instagram to set up a massage -- which they found surprising considering Watson is a pro athlete who should have tons of resources at his disposal to find established therapists.
But, our sources tell us ... Watson didn't just find these women out of the blue -- insisting when his usual therapist was stopped by the COVID pandemic, he reached out to various friends, teammates and associates to get recommendations.
We're told once Watson made contact ... he put an emphasis on privacy and spelled out the areas he wanted the massage to make sure the masseuse was comfortable and to ensure things stayed professional.
Our sources tell us ... Watson insists he never crossed the line with any of the women and still strongly believes they're being led by a money-hungry attorney who's looking for a payout.
There's more ... Deshaun -- who signed a 4-year, $156 million contract extension in 2020 -- obviously has the means to pay the women off if he wanted to, but he doesn't want to give them a cent because he's adamant he didn't do anything wrong.
Of course, Buzbee said during a news conference on Friday that he has personally vetted all of the accusers he represents ... and insists he's moving forward with their cases to hold Watson accountable, not to squeeze him for money.
Bottom line ... both sides are dug in and are looking forward to their day in court.