As the NFL begins investigating sexual assault allegations against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee has released potential evidence suggesting Watson apologized to a masseuse for his behavior.
On the same day a third lawsuit was filed against the star quarterback, with the latest alleged victim accusing him of sexual assault, the attorney representing the nine unnamed women took to Instagram to share potential evidence to hint at Watson apologizing for a specific incident.
Allegations of sexual assault against Watson first emerged earlier this week, with the Pro Bowl quarterback denying the claims and suggesting it was an effort by a “publicity-seeking lawyer” to get money. Shortly after Watson’s response, Buzbee stated on Instagram that more accusations would soon emerge and he was vetting other potential victims.
In a matter of days, the number of accusers has risen from one to nine. The third civil suit was filed Thursday, with Buzbee posting that more evidence and text messages would be provided. Watson hasn’t made any public statements since the additional accusers came forward.
The NFL announced Thursday that it is opening an investigation into the allegations against Watson. Given this matter just started within the past few days, the inquiry will likely stretch long into the NFL offseason.
In the first piece of public evidence provided by Buzbee, texts allegedly coming from Watson show him apologizing for his actions toward a masseuse and demonstrate that he reached out via social media to receive a massage.
What does this mean for a Deshaun Watson trade?
For months, the Texans have refused to even engage in trade discussions. Despite other teams reportedly offering multiple first-round picks, with some clubs pushing heavily for a deal, Houston believed it could convince Watson to rescind his trade request.
Before the allegations emerged, there was increasing belief that a blockbuster deal would happen before the regular season. The Texans are entering a rebuild and without a first- or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the team needs draft capital to build its future. Trading Watson, likely in a deal that would have netted three first-round picks and additional compensation, would have been the start of an organizational reset.
Instead, trade rumors will likely come to a stop. Teams like the Carolina Panthers, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins certainly won’t risk pursuing a deal further, at least until there is far greater clarity with the ongoing situation. If strong evidence is found that strongly convinces general managers or the NFL that Watson committed sexual assault, his future in the NFL becomes uncertain.
The biggest storyline of the NFL offseason has changed dramatically in a single week. What once could have become one of the biggest trades in NFL history could now end in one of the league’s best and youngest stars in trouble and out of football for a long time.