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Deshaun Watson won’t face charges, Carolina Panthers to make aggressive offer

Andrew Buller-Russ

This is the day Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson had been anticipating for over a year now. After facing nine accusations of sexual assault, a grand jury in Harris County Texas has declined to bring criminal charges against Watson. In other words, the jury finds him not guilty.

Keep in mind, Watson is still facing civil lawsuits, and the NFL still has an ongoing investigation into the matters, but this was the biggest hurdle the former Clemson star had to clear to get back on the field in 2022.

It’s a massive win for the entire Watson camp. Instead of potentially being ruled out for the season, and possibly longer, the path has been cleared for him to resume his football career.

Here’s an official statement from Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin.

“We are delighted that the grand jury has looked at the matter thoroughly and reached the same conclusion we did. Deshaun Watson did not commit any crimes and is not guilty of any offenses.

Now that the criminal investigations have been completed, we are happy to move forward with the civil case depositions. We will vigorously defend those cases with every ounce we have.

There were no crimes here but there is a plaintiffs’ attorney churning up negative press and churning up his clients hoping for a pay day. These cases have been the product of a lawyer maximizing his own personal publicity at the expense of others, including his own clients.

It is time to let Deshaun move on.”

Deshaun Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin

Related: 10 NFL teams reportedly monitoring Deshaun Watson, one team ‘all-in’ on trade

Deshaun Watson releases statement

Naturally, after everything that’s transpired, Watson had a lot to say in his first public appearance since the ruling.

“It’s definitely a very emotional moment for me,” Watson said, via video from Brooks Kubena of the Houston Chronicle. “I know we’re far from being done of handling what we need to handle on the legal side, but today is definitely a big day. I thank my Lord and savior Jesus Christ for letting the truth be heard. I think everyone knows a part of this is seeing and hearing both sides, and that’s what my point and my team want to do is have a fair slate of us telling our side of the story and letting a conclusion come down to what happened today. That’s what the grand jury decided on. Thank you, and I just thank my Lord and savior. I’m going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community. We’re going to continue, on the legal side, I’ll fulfill, handle what we need to handle, but also ready to get back on the field. Been prepping for that and ready to go for that. I thank my family, all my close supporters this past year. I thank my team that’s been behind me, supporting me and keeping me up this past year. Yeah, I’m going to continue to just keep pushing forward and building my name back to where it was if not better.”

Deshaun Watson on his emotions following the decision (H/t to Pro Football Talk)

Meanwhile, Watson has yet to hear anything from the NFL since his court appearance.

Related: Deshaun Watson trade to the Carolina Panthers: How it might look

Teams expected to ramp up Deshaun Watson trade talks

NFL: Carolina Panthers at Houston Texans
Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Now the real fun begins. Who will trade for Deshaun Watson? It’s a question the football world is dying to know. Luckily, we should have an answer prior to the start of the 2022 NFL Draft as teams begin finalizing their QB plans for next year.

One lucky team hopes to place Watson in their starting lineup, though it’s important to remember, the three-time Pro Bowl QB holds all the cards. Watson has a no-trade clause, which gives him the right to essentially choose his next team. From there, the Texans will work out a trade, sending the quarterback to a situation he prefers.

It’s been said that the Texans are seeking at least three first-round picks from teams interested in a Watson trade.

Lately, one of the teams most often linked to a Watson trade has been the Carolina Panthers, who plans to make an “aggressive offer” per ESPN’s David Newton. Yet we’ve also heard up to 10 teams, including the Seattle Seahawks are keeping an eye on the situation. According to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, there are some figures around the league who anticipate the Seahawks trading for Watson.

Then, there’s also another team with great interest. The Cleveland Plain Dealer‘s Mary Kay Cabot noted that the Cleveland Browns are doing their due diligence to figure out if a Watson trade is plausible.

Lastly, the New Orleans Saints have renewed interest in adding Watson to their squad, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. Their biggest obstacle will be clearing enough cap space.

Related: Best Deshaun Watson trade destinations in 2022

Deshaun Watson’s next team odds

Just like betting on the Super Bowl winner, or the No. 1 overall pick, you can also bet on who Deshaun Watson’s next team will be.

Here we have Maxim Bet’s odds on who will acquire Watson.

The leading candidate is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, with +300 odds. After the Bucs, the Pittsburgh Steelers are next at +350 despite one report suggesting they won’t be pursuing Watson.

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Then we have the New Orleans Saints and Minnesota Vikings at +900. After them, the Houston Texans oddly enough have +1000 odds, with the Carolina Panthers facing the same chances according to Maxim Bet.

Rounding out the Watson’s next team odds are the Seattle Seahawks at +1200, Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders at +1400, and the Detroit Lions at +2000.

Related: Miami Dolphins completely shut the door on Deshaun Watson trade