For a year now, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has been sitting in legal and professional limbo.
But things appear to be heating up on both fronts for the Texans unhappy franchise quarterback.
The Harris County District Attorney’s office is expected on Friday to present evidence and findings to a grand jury on 10 criminal complaints against Watson alleging sexual misconduct with massage therapists he saw as a client. Watson also is expected to be deposed on Friday in connection with the 22 civil lawsuits from clients primarily of controversial attorney Tony Buzbee.
Meanwhile, the Texans may be as close as they have been to securing a trade partner for Watson, who demanded a trade from the team last January and did not play at all this past fall. The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers have reportedly been the most aggressive in trying to pursue a trade.
The Seahawks completed a blockbuster trade this week, sending franchise quarterback Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a combination of quality players and high draft picks. That means the Seahawks have the capital Texans general manager Nick Caserio covets for Watson in a trade. Watson, however, does have a no-trade clause so he would have to be agreeable to any trade destination.
But the 3-time Pro Bowl quarterback’s most immediate moves will likely take place with the legal process on Friday. It’s uncertain what evidence prosecutors may have to convince a grand jury to file criminal charges, but Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, isn’t taking any chances.
Hardin has gone on record this week that he will instruct his client to invoke his Fifth Amendment Rights in any deposition for the civil cases knowing that a grand jury is hearing evidence on criminal charges. By taking the Fifth, Watson is not admitting guilt.
“It’s a non-starter because neither I nor any lawyer in the free world will allow their client to give testimony in a civil case while those same issues are being heard by a grand jury,” Hardin said to Pro Football Network. “Tony Buzbee didn’t want to delay. It’s unfortunate. Deshaun will be glad to testify when I advise him to.
“This is a civil matter. That’s where we believe it should be heard. If Tony Buzbee wants to waste his time asking questions, that’s fine. Deshaun will not answer those questions. Deshaun will testify when the grand jury has completed its work.”
Chances are Watson’s immediate playing future will be clearer by next week. Watson has a four-year, $156 million contract with the Texans that begins this upcoming season.