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NFL insider puts surprise teams as favorites for Deshaun Watson trade

Deshaun Watson is unlikely to ever suit up for the Houston Texans again. As the Pro Bowl quarterback deals with the legal turmoil from nearly two dozen civil suits for sexual misconduct, his NFL future hangs in the balance.

Watson demanded a trade in January, wanting to move on from a Texans’ regime he didn’t trust. Before long, reports surfaced that he was prepared to sit out the 2021 season. But new general manager Nick Caserio refused to trade the star quarterback, turning down every inquiry and offer that came in.

If push came to shove, Houston was ready to let Watson sit out the start of the regular season. The front office and head coach David Culley were confident fences could be mended in the meantime. But everything changed in March when sexual assault allegations first emerged against Watson.

Both the NFL and the Houston Police Department are conducting investigations into allegations of sexual harassment and assault by the 25-year-old against masseuses and a makeup artist. There likely won’t be a resolution for months and the NFL is waiting to put Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, but he has played his last snap for the Texans.

Related: Houston Texans ‘slowly moving on’ from Deshaun Watson

NBC Sports’ Peter King wrote that Watson will likely be with a new team at this time in 2022. While no club is willing to acquire him right now, the NFL insider provided a list of clubs who should be viewed as the favorites for the 2020 NFL MVP candidate.

What should the Houston Texans do with Deshaun Watson?

Who will trade for Deshaun Watson?

Multiple teams have expressed interest in acquiring Watson after the allegations emerged. Even as sponsors like Nike pulled away from him, general managers still see an opportunity to land a potential star on the field.

Related: 8 teams were interested in Deshaun Watson trade

The Texans already missed their window for a potential record-setting return. Before the allegations, it’s estimated a team would need to send three first-round picks, Day 2 picks and a young player to have a shot at Watson. Now, in light of everything, the cost will be lower and the Texans are putting themselves in a position to move on.

Once investigations conclude and the NFL decides if it will discipline Watson and the potential length of his suspension, King believes these NFL teams are the likeliest landing spots.

  • Philadelphia Eagles (3-1): The Eagles have expressed interest and could have three first-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
  • Carolina Panthers (3-1): Team owner David Tepper desperately wanted Watson in February and the Sam Darnold trade isn’t enough to prevent him from looking for an even better quarterback.
  • Washington Football Team (5-1): The WFT will roll with Ryan Fitzpatrick in 2021, but Watson could make them a Super Bowl contender next year.
  • Denver Broncos (6-1): Focused on an Aaron Rodgers trade, but the Broncos could check back on Watson later this year.

Ultimately, Watson likely won’t be playing for anyone when Week 1 rolls around. The Texans will start Tyrod Taylor and they have Davis Mills to develop behind him. If the league’s investigation stretches into September, Watson will be on the exempt list and still getting paid.

Read More: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell addresses Deshaun Watson allegations