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Houston Texans now open to Deshaun Watson trade after sexual assault allegations

First-year Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio has changed his tune big time when it comes to a potential Deshaun Watson trade.

With circumstances having changed dramatically relating to the star quarterback after 19 lawsuits claiming sexual assault, that’s a given. Even then, it’s rather stunning the about-face we’ve seen from the embattled Texans’ organization over the past few weeks. Caserio’s comments on Tuesday add another layer to this.

“I think we’ll take it one day at a time, and everything is pretty fluid here and we’ll adjust as we go,” Caserio said, via Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated. “And ultimately, I think we’ll do what we feel is best for the Houston Texans organizationally.”

Contrast that with comments Caserio made during the introductory press conference for new head coach David Culley back in late January. The difference is stunning.

“Before we take a few questions: Organizationally, we want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson. We have zero interest in trading the player,” the general manager said at the time.

First off, it’s important to note that no criminal charges have been filed against Deshaun Watson. Secondly, the allegations have not yet proven to be true. Meanwhile, no jury has had a chance to give Watson his day in court when it comes to civil cases.

What should the Houston Texans do with Deshaun Watson?

That’s the backdrop here. But the change in optics from Houston’s front office over the past two months is telling. It also comes at a time when talk of a potential trade has died down. That’s magnified recently by the moves we’ve seen teams make who were previously interested in the star quarterback.

Read More: San Francisco 49ers trade for 3rd pick in 2021 NFL Draft: 3 moves likely to follow

San Francisco 49ers’ blockbuster trade was a tell

San Francisco 49ers mock draft: Justin Fields, Ohio State
Jan 11, 2021; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2021 CFP National Championship Game. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

It was this past Friday that 49ers general manager John Lynch pulled off a blockbuster deal ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft. San Francisco dealt the 12th pick, two future first-round picks and a mid-rounder to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for the third overall selection. The 49ers have made it clear they will use said pick on a quarterback to eventually replace Jimmy Garoppolo under center.

This is telling in that San Francisco was among the teams most bandied about in a Deshaun Watson trade. He listed this organization as one of his top potential landing spots. Meanwhile, indications were that the 49ers had put together a trade package for Watson.

After these allegations become public record, San Francisco turned around and offered a similar package to Miami for the right to presumably select Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones — three unproven quarterbacks. It’s not a coincidence that Houston’s reported asking price when the team was not willing to officially discuss a trade started out with three first-round picks. It’s something that makes you take a step back.

Read More: 2021 NFL mock draft: Crazy trades spark historic run on QBs, more big surprises

Can the Houston Texans trade Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson sexual assault allegations
Sep 20, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) walks off the field after a play during the fourth quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Not until NFL teams get more clarity on Watson’s off-field situation. Honestly, that’s a quick answer to a loaded question. But how can a team make a move for the 2020 NFL passing champion without knowing more about what’s happening from a legal standpoint?

If Watson were to settle out of court, it brings up the possibility of an NFL-mandated punishment. The league has already opened up an investigation into the matter under the guise of the personal conduct policy. Even if that were settled, a suspension could be looming. This doesn’t even take into account the hit Watson’s reputation would take around the league and the push back from society in general.

None of this is to say Watson should settle or is guilty of any crime. It just speaks to the complexities of the issues and what potentially interested teams have to be thinking right now. In short, Deshaun Watson will not be traded until there’s more clarity. Regardless of the Texans’ sudden change of heart, that’s unlikely to happen any time soon.