The start of the NFL’s new calendar year is just weeks away and what that means for Houston and Texans is a new round of speculation about where disgruntled and troubled one-time franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson will land.
ESPN reported a story Wednesday that now Watson has added two new teams to his list of desired trade destinations. Apparently, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings are now top Watson’s desired trade destinations.
The Bucs, who won the Super Bowl in 2021, are suddenly in the quarterback market after veteran and future Hall of Famer Tom Brady announced his retirement. Head coach Bruce Arians would like another star quarterback to come in a fill the void on a roster of veteran players who are ready to win no, which seems like a good fit for Watson. The Vikings don’t make nearly as much sense, especially because they already have Kirk Cousins under a sizeable contract that would be hard to trade.
In the meantime, it’s been known for more than a year Watson no longer wants to play for the Texans. The problem is that moving Watson has become far more complicated since he initially made his trade demands last year after team owner Cal McNair went back on his promise to give Watson input in who the new head coach and general manager would be.
In addition to the new four-year, $156 million contract that kicks in this upcoming season that comes with a no-trade clause, Watson is also now engulfed in a messing and troubling lawsuit and potential criminal charges with 22 massage therapists claiming sexual assault and sexual misconduct.
After last week’s Super Bowl, Watson can now be deposed by a grand just. The former Pro Bowl quarterback has been under investigation for 10 criminal complaints based on interviews with some of the massage therapists.
Should Watson somehow manage to settle all 22 lawsuits and avoid any felony charges, he still could be facing a lengthy suspension by the NFL for violating its player conduct code.
These were all issues that made it complicated trading Watson this past year as he sat idle with the Texans, along with the fact general manager Nick Caserio is asking for a king’s ransom from any team willing to trade for Watson.
The Miami Dolphins were one-time thought to be a trade destination that Watson would approve, but it all fell apart when Watson’s attorneys were unable to reach settlements with all 22 of the women prior to the NFL’s trade deadline in November. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross backed out of the trade for Watson that was on the table.
Since then, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, who is believed to be the one who most coveted Watson, has been fired and the team has affirmed its commitment to former first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa.
The Texans, meanwhile, are up against the clock with Watson. The team paid Watson $10 million under his rookie contract not to play a down, but this year his salary jumps to $35 million for the season.