Dolphins Frontrunners For Deshaun Watson?

Despite no clarity having emerged on the Deshaun Watson legal front, trade buzz has resurfaced. Long connected to a possible run at the Texans quarterback, the Dolphins may well have circled back to pursuing him.

The Dolphins are believed to be the favorites to acquire the embattled passer, Charles Robinson of reports (on Twitter). The Texans do appear to be negotiating, per Robinson, who adds the Broncos, Eagles and Panthers have expressed interest. However, the no-trade clause that allows Watson to block a deal to an undesirable destination has impacted the talks and moved Miami to the front (Twitter link).

Although Watson’s value has veered into a strange place, with the 22 civil suits and a Houston PD investigation clouding the Pro Bowler’s football career, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes that a trade may well take place in the coming days. Watson no longer appears to be in the Texans’ plans. He is not atop their depth chart and has not practiced with the team in a notable capacity this year.

While the Panthers re-emerged as a player in these talks, they may not be as interested as the Dolphins. Carolina is not believed to be a serious Watson suitor at this point, according to CBS Sports’ Jonathan Jones and The Athletic’s Joe Person (Twitter links). The Panthers were perhaps the most interested in Watson earlier this year, but the off-field issues changed the organization’s thinking on this front. Carolina is rolling with Sam Darnold for the time being, though the team almost certainly would have moved on Watson sooner if the legal issues did not crop up.

Were the Dolphins to pull the trigger on such a deal, they would certainly draw ire from a portion of their fanbase — due to the numerous allegations of sexual assault and misconduct that surfaced this year — and it would represent a massive organizational pivot. The team was linked to Tua Tagovailoa ahead of the 2019 draft, when it passed on that year’s crop of QBs, and used the No. 5 overall pick on 2020 on the Alabama product. Tagovailoa did not prove to be a quick study as a rookie, though he was coming off a severe hip injury. Punting on the young southpaw so early would surprise, but the Dolphins were believed to be interested in Watson prior to the off-field trouble surfacing earlier this year. Prior to the lawsuits, Miami had prepared a big offer.

A Watson trade would not necessarily end Tagovailoa’s time in Miami, per’s Adam Beasley, but it would seem the second-year passer would need to head elsewhere to continue his career if the more established QB is Florida-bound (Twitter link).

Compensation in a trade will obviously be a significant issue. The Texans have sought a package of three first-round picks and change, with second-rounders and/or proven players also believed to be desired by the rebuilding squad. It will be difficult to imagine a team giving up all that for Watson at this time, but thus far, the Texans have stood firm on their asking price — particularly in a deal involving an AFC team. The NFL refusing to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list has put the Texans in a tough spot, but unloading Watson now would be selling low — in the event the team cannot pry three first-rounders and change in a deal.

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