Deshaun Watson has informed the Texans he would accept a trade to the Dolphins, and John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reports the teams have agreed on compensation. Talks between GMs Chris Grier and Nick Caserio heated up last week and are expected to continue through the Nov. 2 trade deadline, but this journey still has ground to cover.
Should this deal go through, McClain notes the Texans are likely to see their asking price of three first-round picks met. But the back end of the deal — Houston’s aim for multiple second-rounders — might not quite meet the Texans’ goals. Dolphins owner Stephen Ross may serve as the key party here, and his current stance is somewhat murky.
Reported as being behind a Watson trade before the season, Ross has spoken “excitedly” regarding the prospect of the three-time Pro Bowler coming to Miami, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes. However, NBC Sports’ Peter King adds Ross is not believed to be pressuring Grier to complete this deal. That said, McClain reports the longtime Dolphins owner has signed off on his team acquiring the embattled quarterback — with conditions. Those conditions make this deal difficult to finalize by the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
Ross wants more clarity on Watson’s legal situation and how the NFL will proceed regarding a suspension, McClain adds. Twenty-two women have accused Watson of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, with SI.com reporting (via Jackson) three of the 10 women who have spoken to the Houston Police Department have alleged Watson sexually assaulted them. That is a second-degree felony in Texas. Watson has long denied any wrongdoing and does not want to settle cases.
The NFL has not interviewed Watson, and his deposition in the civil suit is not slated to occur until after Super Bowl LVI. This has created a gray area, one that sets up the unusual and optically problematic prospect of Watson playing for another team this season before facing a lengthy suspension in 2022. Watson is not expected to be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, and Roger Goodell confirmed Tuesday night the NFL does not have enough information on these cases to place Watson on the list, via Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). The Dolphins (1-6) have quickly stumbled out of playoff contention, so a Watson move would be for the future.
This is not completely viewed as a Miami-or-bust scenario for Watson, with USA Today’s Josina Anderson noting the fifth-year QB is essentially fine with being traded to most of the teams connected to him (Twitter link). This might not include the Eagles, however. Watson invoked his no-trade clause to block a potential Philadelphia trade, McClain adds.
The Dolphins possess three first-round picks over the next two drafts, having acquired the 49ers’ 2023 choice in the deal that allowed San Francisco to move up for Trey Lance. Miami dealt the other first-rounder obtained in the Lance deal to move up for Jaylen Waddle. Still, a three-first-rounder package would be a historic haul and present tremendous risk for the Dolphins, given Watson’s present status. It will also be interesting if the Texans can land three first-rounders from the Dolphins if the Panthers are truly out of mix.
A Watson trade would, of course, bring a quick end to Tua Tagovailoa‘s run as Miami’s quarterback of the future. Though an August report indicated the Texans are not overly interested in Tagovailoa, Watson coming to Miami would lead to Tua becoming a trade chip at some point.
Brian Flores has repeatedly endorsed Tagovailoa as his starter, doing so again Wednesday morning, but Flores is now on the hot seat. The 81-year-old Ross’ win-now mindset may prevail over any PR blowback the Dolphins would face by acquiring Watson. It now looks like the Dolphins represent by far the best chance of Watson being traded this year. If the Texans do not unload the exiled passer now, McClain adds a trade may not happen until near the 2022 draft.