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Why latest developments in Deshaun Watson legal battle further delays blockbuster trade

Deshaun Watson attorney, Rusty Hardin, was in civil court on Monday defending his client from widespread allegations of sexual misconduct from north of 20 women.

Said appearance was Hardin’s way of attempting to delay deposition from the Houston Texans’ quarterback until it’s known whether the Harris County District Attorney Office in Texas will file criminal charges against the Pro Bowler.

Hardin noted that the he believes they’ll be clarity on potential criminal charges by April 1, asking that Watson’s testimony under oath be delayed until then. If not, the quarterback will likely plead the fifth as a way to avoid incriminating himself. It’s standard practice with potential criminal charges pending.

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While Judge Rabeea Collier said the court will not entertain an abatement of Deshaun Watson’s desposition, it will consider a protective order due to the ongoing criminal investigation.

Remember, eight of the plaintiffs have also filed criminal complaints against Watson. Said complaints are still ongoing with the Harris County District Attorney Office deciding whether to file criminal charges. Judge Collier did rule that Watson’s testimony in the cases of the eight who have filed criminal complaints can wait until April.

So, what does Monday’s hearing in the Deshaun Watson case mean? To make it less complicated for those who don’t have working knowledge of this system, it’s highly unlikely that NFL teams will have any sort of clarity as it relates to either the civil cases or potential criminal charges until April 1 at the earliest.

New Deshaun Watson court developments further delays potential blockbuster trade

Deshaun Watson
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

As you already know, Watson requested a trade from the Texans a year ago last month. A bit later, multiple women came out accusing the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback of sexual misconduct. The former first-round pick from Clemson did not suit up for Houston a season ago.

The backdrop here is the Texans’ organization setting a soft March 16 deadline to trade Watson. Unfortunately, that deadline can now be thrown out the window.

Related: Ideal Deshaun Watson trade scenarios

As for teams potentially interested in a Deshaun Watson trade, it’s been noted recently that they won’t pursue a move until the quarterback’s legal issues are resolved.

“It’s about the legal stuff with Watson right now, and nothing but that, of course. How many teams would be interested if he didn’t have the lawsuits and the possible charges? I would say at least six to 10 teams would step up. It’s a thorny issue because there’s going to be some fallout as far as public relations and the community. If you’re going to trade for him, you have to have your owner fully onboard. Otherwise, it’s a non-starter.”

NFL executive on the issues preventing a Deshaun Watson trade (February 20, 2022)

There’s a whole heck of a lot to look at here from both a legal and football standpoint. It’s convoluted, so bear with us.

Related: Updated NFL trade rumors

  • Judge Collier’s consideration of a protective order as it relates to Watson testifying under oath clouds this entire process for NFL teams. It means that there won’t be any public findings as it relates to his deposition in cases where criminal complaints haven’t been filed until there’s a decision on criminal charges. This includes teams that might be interested in acquiring the star quarterback.
  • Let’s assume the Harris County District Attorney Office decides not to charge Deshaun Watson criminally on April 1. That would leave the Texans roughly 27 days to trade the quarterback before the 2022 NFL Draft starts.
  • These timelines also make it it difficult for quarterback-needy teams to remain patient with free agency slated to start in less than a month. Teams can agree in principle to trades at any point between now and then, further complicating things. That includes the likes of Jimmy Garoppolo and Carson Wentz. To a lesser extent, there’s been talk that Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson will find themselves on the trade block.

In short, everything remains cloudy as it relates to Watson’s off-field situation. That will further delay a blockbuster trade — potentially leading to teams moving off the idea of acquiring the star signal caller.

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