The Houston Texans refused to even engage in Deshaun Watson trade discussions early this offseason as their star pleaded to be moved. Now, with the Pro Bowl quarterback facing an uncertain future in the NFL, Houston’s phone lines are open.
Before the NFL offseason even began, word broke that Watson asked the Texans for a trade. Coming off an MVP-caliber season, the 25-year-old quarterback wanted to play for an organization he could trust and sought an opportunity to compete for a Super Bowl.
For months, the Texans wouldn’t even answer calls. Eight teams reached out to Houston, with general managers willing to offer three first-round picks and additional young talent. But the Texans made it clear, they would rather Watson sit out the 2021 season than trade him.
Everything changed in March following the first of more than 20 allegations of sexual harassment and assault. Now, as the NFL and the Houston Police Department investigate the accusations, the Texans are ready to discuss a trade.
“Houston is still open to trading him. This isn’t something they’ve taken off the table or changed their minds on”ESPN’s Dianna Russini with latest on Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson
It doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given the Texans’ transactions this spring. Under the direction of new general manager Nick Caserio, Houston signed Tyrod Taylor, traded for Ryan Finley and spent their first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft on Davis Mills.
While Caserio might be ready to discuss a deal, things are far more complicated than simple negotiations.
Will Deshaun Watson play in 2021?
With the NFL’s mandatory minicamp approaching, we could soon see the league take some action. The investigation is ongoing, but the number of allegations against Watson and his accusers coming forward publicly could lead to him being placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list.
If Watson is placed on the exempt list, he would not be allowed to participate in any Texans’ practices, team activities or games this summer. However, under league rules, he would still receive his $10.54 million base salary and $5.4 million signing bonus for the 2021 season.
Watson has recently seen some legal victories in the ongoing court battle. One of his accusers dropped her civil suit against the NFL star, a judge ruled all of the women must reveal their identities in the lawsuits and everything is now in one joint civil suit.
There were reports that attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the 22 women, was negotiating a settlement with Watson. But Buzbee denied those claims and even called into question the NFL’s investigation for how it treated his clients during interviews.
Even if Watson is placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, NFL teams will likely remain hesitant to acquire him this summer. He could be facing a lengthy suspension and there are real concerns about his short-term future in the NFL.
But NFL teams are still interested in what he could potentially do for them on the field. The Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles are among the clubs still open to the possibility of acquiring him. It also helps these clubs that Houston’s asking price would be significantly lower at this point.
Watson won’t be playing for the Texans again and it would be a surprise if he took the field for anyone in Week 1. As the legal situation plays out during the summer, there will be more clarity on exactly when he can return to the field. Once that is known, a blockbuster trade could be right behind.