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Houston Texans reportedly starting to lower Deshaun Watson trade price

Matt Johnson

The Houston Texans have told NFL teams for months that if a Deshaun Watson trade is going to happen, it will require an unprecedented return. Despite the star quarterback’s ongoing legal issues, the franchise hasn’t budged off its asking price. That might be changing.

All of this began when Watson demanded a trade in January. Coming off an MVP-caliber season, the 25-year-old quarterback was fed up with the Texans’ organization amid troubling issues in the front office. Even then, Watson was willing to never play for the franchise again.

For months, the Texans refused to entertain the thought of a trade. When teams called, inquiries were either outright rejected or the asking price set so high that no one would realistically meet it. While many believed a trade was inevitable, Houston was determined to make things work with Watson after signing him to a $156 million contract.

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Everything changed early this summer. The first of 22 women came forward to file civil suits against the Texans’ quarterback, accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct. Amid the civil suits, 10 criminal complaints and investigations by the FBI, NFL and Houston Police Department, Houston became receptive to a trade.

But even with Watson’s immediate NFL future up in the air, general manager Nick Caserio didn’t budge off his asking price. Fully aware that the 26-year-old quarterback could miss the entire season or face a lengthy suspension, the Texans demanded at least six draft picks, including three first-round selections.

It resulted in teams like the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and Philadelphia Eagles ending their pursuits. But the Miami Dolphins were still interested and even became the favorites. However, Houston stuck to its guns and Miami balked at the asking price.

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It seems the Texans’ front office is finally coming to its senses. Appearing on FOX before Sunday’s games, NFL insider Jay Glazer shared that Houston’s stance on a Watson trade is starting to come down.

“They weren’t open to trade talks unless somebody was going to give them a ridiculous trade offer. More than six draft picks. They’ve already been offered three one’s and three three’s. Wanted more than that. However I was told that this past week, their stance started to soften a little bit with that.”

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Rival teams were willing to offer multiple first-round picks to the Texans, but only on a conditional basis. If the Texans really wanted to move on from him, clearing cap space and erasing him from the team’s future plans, they would need to offer pick protections.

  • Deshaun Watson contract: $15.94 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)

While there aren’t specific, any team acquiring Watson is certainly looking for protection in the event investigations determine he committed sexual misconduct or assault. Even if the criminal complaints and civil suits go away, he could still be suspended eight-plus games by the NFL.

The NFL trade deadline is November 2, so there is still some time for the legal situation to be worked through. But with teams seemingly aware this could go on for months, they want protection in case Watson did any of the things more than 20 women have accused him of.