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Grand jury in Deshaun Watson case will hear evidence this week, QB to plead the fifth

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been in the news over the past calendar year for all the wrong reasons.

It started with the three-time Pro Bowler requesting a trade last offseason. Then, a little while later, north of 20 women came forward accusing the former first-round pick of sexual misconduct.

On a day that’s been filled with other NFL quarterbacks taking over the headlines, Watson has made an appearance himself.

According to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network, a grand jury is set to hear evidence against Deshaun Watson from the Harris County District Attorney on Friday. It’s the very same day that Watson himself is expected to give a deposition in civil cases against him. The embattled quarterback is expected to take the fifth in said deposition.

“Deshaun Watson plans to take the fifth amendment on Friday when he is scheduled to give his first deposition in civil litigation per his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, on his advice. The grand jury will hear presentation from district attorney on Friday, too. Request to delay denied.”

Aaron Wilson, Pro Football Network (March 8, 2022)

As for the grand jury process, Watson’s side is happy about the timing of the DA’s office presenting its evidence.

“The free agency time is around the corner and we’ve wanted this decision to be made by then and it looks like they’re going to and I’m welcoming it,” Hardin told the Times. “There’s never been any crime here, no matter if you call it indecent assault or anything else. These are civil matters that belong in the civil courts.”

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, to the NY Times

Related: Ideal Deshaun Watson trade scenarios

What do these latest Deshaun Watson developments mean?

Deshaun Watson
Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The expectation was that we’d know whether Watson will face criminal charges by April 1. Once the grand jury is presented said evidence, it will then make a decision on whether to recommend criminal charges.

Meanwhile, multiple women who have already made criminal complaints against Watson have been given subpoenas to testify on Friday. As for Watson pleading the fifth in civil court, that’s standard operating procedure. Lawyers will recommend this when criminal charges are potentially outstanding. Hardin has been no different in talking to the media on behalf of his client.

“Neither I or any lawyer in the free world will allow their client to give testimony in a civil case while those same issues are being heard by a grand jury. Tony Buzbee didn’t want to delay. It’s unfortunate. Deshaun will be glad to testify when I advise him to.”

Rusty Hardin on Deshaun Watson pleading the fifth

From an on-field perspective, the timeline of a potential Watson trade remains very much up in the air. Houston had set a March 16 soft deadline to pull off a trade. That’s when the new league year and NFL free agency opens. This now seems to be highly unlikely.

While some teams are willing to pull off a blockbuster for Watson with the civil cases still up in the air, they will not trade for the former Clemson star with the criminal element of this case outstanding.

All of this comes on the heels of the Seattle Seahawks sending Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in a blockbuster trade. It also comes mere hours after Aaron Rodgers signed an extension with the Green Bay Packers that makes him the highest-paid player in NFL history.

Should these legal situations be settled in Deshaun Watson’s favor, he’ll become the cream of the NFL trade market crop moving forward. But it’s way too early to draw a final determination on this.