The Deshaun Watson market, as muddled as it may be, reclaimed its place atop the NFL news cycle Saturday. Texans GM Nick Caserio has discussed the Pro Bowl quarterback on more than one occasion with the Dolphins and Panthers, Armando Salguero of outkick.com reports.
Watson would prefer a trade to Miami but would not veto a deal that sends him to Charlotte, Salguero adds. The soon-to-be 26-year-old QB has a no-trade clause. The Panthers are not believed to be making a hard push for the Clemson product at this point, but they were monitoring him recently and showed considerable interest this offseason — before the sexual assault and misconduct allegations emerged.
As of now, however, the Dolphins are not meeting the first part of the Texans’ lofty asking price. Miami is not ready to part with three first-round picks for Watson, per Salguero, who adds no trade is imminent. The Texans are believed to want three first-rounders and two second-rounders for Watson, who requested a trade this past winter and has not factored into the team’s practices this summer. Houston is not expected to fetch such a haul for Watson, Adam Beasley of ProFootballNetwork.com notes, if a deal is made soon.
Miami remains interested at the right price, and if that is the case, Houston may not be able to keep its lofty price tag where it presently is. The Panthers’ interest having dwindled, and the Broncos and Eagles potentially bowing out — as Aaron Wilson of Sports Talk 790 reports, Watson will not waive his no-trade clause for Philly — may leave just one serious suitor. That would obviously benefit the Dolphins.
Additionally, the Texans are not believed to be interested in a deal that includes Tua Tagovailoa, per Salguero. That could change, but any deal for Watson not including Tagovailoa would leave the former No. 5 overall pick in a strange situation. The Dolphins were linked to Tagovailoa a year before they actually selected him, but Beasley notes the some concern about his development exists within the organization. Not everyone in the Dolphins’ organization is concerned about Tua, with the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson noting the team has been pleased with the second-year QB’s improvement. GM Chris Grier has committed to Tagovailoa as his 2021 starter on multiple occasions during the offseason.
Tagovailoa would have no path to a starting job on a team with Watson, assuming his legal trouble does not result in prison time. While Tagovailoa could serve as the Dolphins’ starter during a Watson suspension, the team would almost certainly need to unload the younger quarterback in a separate trade at some point.
It would certainly be strange for a team to acquire Watson at this point. Twenty-two women have filed civil suit against him, and at least 10 are involved in the Houston Police Department’s investigation. A grand jury is set to be empaneled soon, and the NFL is not planning to interview Watson until it has spoken with all 22 accusers. The Pro Bowl passer is not set to be deposed in the civil case until February 2022. While this would create a window for Watson to play this season, though a grand jury indictment would seemingly prompt the NFL to place him on the commissioner’s exempt list, a team that acquires the QB under these circumstances would face backlash.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.