Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson has been at the center of the NFL offseason discussions, beginning with trade rumors and now his off-field legal issues. With his future in Houston all but decided, there is growing buzz about what team he will play for next.
The 25-year-old quarterback is under both criminal and NFL investigations for multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. As his legal team prepares for 22 civil lawsuits, Watson is training this summer intending to take the field in the 2021 NFL season.
A three-time Pro Bowl selection, Watson demanded a trade at the start of the offseason due to the Texans’ organizational dysfunction. Houston refused to entertain offers, even as desperate franchises made historic offers. But as soon as multiple women came forward with alarming accusations against the Pro Bowl quarterback, many of the interested teams backed away.
While many organizations have backed off, the Miami Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles and Denver Broncos are still rumored to have interest. While there would be even more interest once the legal matters are settled and the NFL concludes its investigation, there seems to be an overwhelming favorite to land the superstar quarterback.
“The Eagles have the three first-round picks, and that’s what they’re gonna have, and this is the prediction I’m going to make: based on the information that I got, when — and I’ll say WHEN — he is traded, I think there is a 90% chance that he will be with the Philadelphia Eagles. And just based on all the information that I’ve gotten, that’s what I’ve come down to.”Philadelphia Eagles sideline reporter Howard Eskin on the possibility of Deshaun Watson trade
Philadelphia is certainly positioned better than most to acquire a star quarterback. It owns two first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft (Eagles, Miami Dolphins) and will have a third if Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz plays at least 75 percent of the team’s snaps in 2021.
There’s even more the Eagles could include in a trade. Jalen Hurts, Philadelphia’s starting quarterback, would give the Texans a potential long-term replacement for Watson.
While Philadelphia does have the resources to acquire Watson, there are important factors at play.
Will Deshaun Watson play in 2021?
When attorneys representing Watson and his accusers last spoke, it was made clear that a settlement wouldn’t be reached in the foreseeable future. With the quarterback’s lawyer taking aim at the alleged victims and their attorney firing back, the two sides remain far apart on a resolution.
- Deshaun Watson stats (2020 season): 4,823 passing yards (1st in NFL), 8.9 YPA (1st in NFL), 70.2% completion rate (2nd in NFL), 112.4 quarterback rating (2nd in NFL), 33/7 TD/INT ratio,
That’s a problem for Watson. Due to a backed-up legal system in the area, Watson won’t be deposed in the civil lawsuits until Feb. 22. It creates further problems for the NFL, which hasn’t set a timetable for a conclusion to its investigation and hasn’t spoken to Watson nor many of his accusers yet.
The arrival of training camp also creates an awkward situation. Watson made it clear, long before the allegations, he never wanted to play for the Texans again. But if he doesn’t report for camp, he’ll receive a $50,000 fine each day he is absent. But the Texans also likely want him away from practices, considering the media coverage around him.
If a settlement isn’t reached by late August, the NFL will likely need to step in by placing Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt list. It will keep him away from the Texans and still allow him to be paid, serving as a temporary fix on the problem.
- Deshaun Watson contract: $14.94 million cap hit (2021), $40.4 million cap hit (2022), $42.4 million cap hit (2023), $37.4 million cap hit (2024) and $32 million cap hit (2025)
Houston could attempt to trade him now, but it would be selling an MVP-caliber talent at the lowest possible value. Ultimately, everyone in the NFL will likely be waiting months for the first signs of an answer.