For pretty much the first several weeks of the NFL offseason, rumors surrounding a potential Deshaun Watson trade from the Houston Texans dominated the league’s water cooler.
That changed on a dime this past week after numerous unnamed women claimed that Watson had sexually assaulted them. Local Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee now has a dozen women prepared to file civil suits claiming sexual misconduct on the part of the NFL’s reigning passing champion.
On the surface, one might think interested teams would take a step back and gather more information regarding a potential Deshaun Watson trade following these serious allegations. That might not be the case.
“We need to know more facts before making a firm decision on a trade, but, yes, we’re still interested,” one NFL executive told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. “How could you not be interested in Deshaun Watson possibly being your quarterback? The guy is an incredible talent.”
At this point, there’s been no criminal charges filed against Watson. While Mr. Buzbee is attempting to change that, local authorities have made it clear they’re not in contact with the attorney relating to evidence and/or criminal charges.
Could a Deshaun Watson trade still happen?
With about five weeks to go before the 2021 NFL Draft, things could be coming to a head here. We already know that Watson has requested a trade from the Texans. In turn, the organization has been unwilling to discuss deals with interested teams. Whether these allegations change things remains to be seen.
What we do know is that interested teams could be taking on a major risk by acquiring Watson with these legal issues still up in the air. Prior to said allegations becoming public record, Houston was looking at a potentially historic haul in a hypothetical Watson trade. That included three first-round picks and change.
Can any team justify actually paying that price with all of the unknowns relating to the above-mentioned sexual assault allegations against Mr. Watson?
Who is still interest in Deshaun Watson?
According to the above-linked report from Wilson, a half-dozen teams remain in on Watson. That includes the Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, New York Jets, Carolina Panthers, Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos.
In terms of a potential Deshaun Watson trade, several of these teams have young quarterbacks who could entice Houston should the team opt to move off him. The Eagles’ interest in Watson is likely under the guise of moving 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts to the Texans.
As for the 49ers’ reported interest in Watson, a move of this ilk would likely ultimately send Jimmy Garoppolo to the New England Patriots in a separate blockbuster. New England is said to be interested in Garoppolo, but continues to be told he’s not available by San Francisco’s front office. Obviously, a move for Watson would change that in a second.
San Francisco is said to be one of Watson’s preferred landing spots. The team has also apparently put together a trade package for Watson. It’s one of the primary reasons the 49ers have not restructured Garoppolo’s contract to be bigger players during NFL free agency.
As it stands, I have a hard time believing Watson will be traded until further information comes out regarding the multiple sexual assault allegations. If a trade were to happen within the next five weeks, it would be a major risk for the acquiring team. That’s for sure.