Deshaun Watson

Texans GM On Deshaun Watson’s Future

In a Friday chat with reporters, Texans GM Nick Caserio declined to delve into the lawsuits against Deshaun Watson or the trade talk surrounding him. With respect to “the legal process,” Caserio explained that his focus is on the Texans’ offseason program and the upcoming draft. 

[RELATED: Five Watson Accusers Have Spoken With Police]

If you want to speculate, you should probably go buy Bitcoin,” Caserio said when asked about the QB’s future in Houston (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

We’re not entirely sure about cryptocurrency, but, right now, it doesn’t seem likely that the Texans and Watson will be moving forward together. Before the slew of suits, Watson had been demanding a trade for months. Now, it makes even less sense for the Texans to keep the embattled quarterback.

One of the civil suits against Texans QB Deshaun Watson has been dropped, but another lawsuit has been filed, bringing the plaintiff count back to 22. Meanwhile, five of Tony Buzbee’s clients have spoken to police, raising the possibility of criminal charges.

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Five Deshaun Watson Accusers Have Spoken With Police

One of the civil suits against Texans QB Deshaun Watson has been dismissed, but as Samantha Ketterer of the Houston Chronicle writes, another lawsuit has been filed, which returns the total to 22. The newest accuser is a makeup artist who alleges, among other things, that at various points during two massage sessions, Watson asked her to put her hand on his penis and tried to kiss and grope her.

She also avers that Watson contacted her via social media to request a massage, at which point she made it clear that she was not a licensed massage therapist. Like all of the other plaintiffs, she is represented by Tony Buzbee.

Even more problematic for Watson is the fact that five of Buzbee’s clients have now spoken to police, as Will Hobson of the Washington Post reports. We had previously heard that Ashley Solis — the first accuser to publicly identify herself — had contacted the Houston Police Department, which opened a criminal investigation earlier this month.

Hobson provides a comprehensive look at how this matter has unfolded, including Buzbee’s initial communication with Watson’s management at Athletes First. Buzbee claims that Scott Gaffield, general counsel for Athletes First, did not take the accusations seriously, and while Gaffield was willing to discuss a “reasonable” settlement for Solis — i.e. less than the $100K that Buzbee had offered on Solis’ behalf — he was doing so just so that Watson “can learn a lesson about having put himself in this situation.” Gaffield declined to comment for Hobson’s story, instead referring a reporter to an earlier statement in which he expressed his belief that Watson did not engage in any wrongdoing.

Buzbee, both in his interview with Hobson and on Instagram, fired back at statements from Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, which indicated that any sexual interactions between Watson and Buzbee’s clients were consensual. Hardin had suggested that Watson turned to social media to arrange for massages due to the pandemic, to which Buzbee replied, “Because of COVID, he was reaching out to dozens of different people on Instagram? For massages? … Because of COVID, you would think he would have one person who had tested negative.”

Meanwhile, Hardin — who has accused Buzbee of taking part in a “new kind of extortion using social media and salacious innuendo” — did not speak with the Washington Post for very long, saying that he believes it would be better to address the inaccuracies of Buzbee’s claims in the series of pleadings he plans to file next week as opposed to a newspaper article.

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One Deshaun Watson Lawsuit Dismissed

One of the lawsuits against Deshaun Watson has been dismissed, according to attorney Rusty Hardin (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero). Of course, this was just one of 22 civil lawsuits that have been filed against the Texans quarterback, so he still has a long road ahead.

[RELATED: Texans Distancing From Deshaun Watson?]

Earlier this month, a judge ruled that more than half of Watson’s accusers would have to reveal their identities. Meanwhile, the lawyer for the opposing side said that all of the plaintiffs would do so.

We believe we have names for 20 of the 22 lawsuits. We’ve got one dismissed and we’re looking for one [name],” Hardin said.

Hardin’s comments didn’t specify whether the dismissed case was settled, or if the accuser dropped the suit for other reasons. The plaintiff has since reached out to Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com (on Twitter), explaining that she has dropped her lawsuit “for now” “in light of privacy and security concerns.

[The] plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed,” the court document reads.

Watson is still facing 21 civil suits and the potential for criminal charges after one accuser — Ashley Solis — contacted Houston police. Hardin says that Solis, the first accuser to publicly identify herself, sought a $100K settlement before she filed suit.

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Texans Distancing From Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson has been removed from the intro video to the team’s online TV show (Twitter link via Rivers McCown of The Athletic). Though it may seem trivial, it’s another indication that the Texans are preparing for a future without the embattled quarterback.

[RELATED: Deshaun Watson Accusers To Be Identified]

At last check, 22 lawsuits have been filed against Watson this offseason. In addition to the civil cases, Watson will also face an investigation from the league office. Criminal charges could also be in play now that authorities have been contacted by some of the accusers. The allegations from massage therapists range from sexual misconduct to assault.

The Texans spent the early part of the year trying to convince Watson to stay, rather than demand a trade out of Houston. Now, things are far more complicated. The Panthers were said to be Watson’s most fervent suitor — last week, they acquired Sam Darnold from the Jets, taking them out of the running. From a football perspective, plenty of teams would want Watson, but the ongoing situation means that he’s probably untradeable.

As the lawsuits and investigations continue to play out, it seems increasingly likely that Watson will wind up on the Commissioner’s Exempt list, which would bar him from taking the field while still collecting his salary.

Watson, 26 in September, led the league with 4,823 passing yards in 2020 — a new career-high. He also set new personal bests with 33 passing touchdowns and a 70.2% completion rate.

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Deshaun Watson Accusers To Be Identified

Friday brought more clarity on the Deshaun Watson case. The accusers who have alleged the Texans quarterback committed sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct will be identified.

Going into Friday, two of Watson’s 22 accusers had identified themselves. As of Friday morning, nine of the accusers were willing to reveal their identities. Houston courts ruled Watson’s accusers must identify themselves to proceed with civil cases, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com notes. By Friday’s end, at least 14 of the accusers will be revealed, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com reports. The attorney representing the accusers, Tony Buzbee, said after Friday’s hearing all of his clients who have accused Watson are prepared to be identified.

Additionally, Watson attorney Rusty Hardin said Friday sexual encounters did take place between his client and some of the massage therapists accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct, per Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com. Hardin, however, contends all of those encounters were consensual. He declined to specify how many masseuses with whom Watson engaged in sexual acts.

The 22 accusers’ suits will also be consolidated into one, according to Rapoport (video link). This only applies to the civil suits Watson is facing. The Houston Police Department began an investigation into Watson last week, which will be separate from the civil process. The NFL is investigating Watson as well.

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Latest On Texans’ Deshaun Watson

This week, Deshaun Watson‘s lawyer requested that one of his anonymous plaintiffs be identified. On Friday, the attorney representing Watson’s accusers said that nine of his 12 clients are willing to put their names on their lawsuits (Twitter link via Aaron Reiss of The Athletic). 

To date, only two women has been willing to go public with her identity. Now, the majority of Tony Buzbee’s clients are willing to go on the record. That could prove to be a huge barrier for the quarterback’s defense.

In total, 22 women have accused the Texans quarterback of sexual assault or misconduct. Ashley Solis — the first woman to publicly identify herself — recently spoke with Houston police, potentially taking Watson from civil suits to criminal charges. Solis says Watson touched her with his genitals during a massage session — other accusers have made similar claims in recent weeks.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, says Solis sought a $100K settlement before she filed suit. Hardin also disclosed emails discussing the settlement, though such pre-litigation communications are fairly standard in civil matters.

Meanwhile, the Texans are closely monitoring the situation, along with the league office.

In a letter to season-ticket holders Monday, the Texans addressed the Watson developments.

We want to assure you that we take these allegations very seriously,” the McNair family said in a statement. “While we await the conclusion of these investigations, we express our strong stance against any form of sexual assault. Our family and the entire Houston Texans organization are deeply troubled by any form of abuse and we condemn this type of behavior.”

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Latest On Deshaun Watson

Two of Deshaun Watson‘s accusers revealed their identities Tuesday. Both said Watson sexually assaulted them.

Ashley Solis, the first of the 22 women to accuse the Texans quarterback of sexual assault or misconduct, has provided information to the police, Sarah Barshop of ESPN.com notes. Another of Tony Buzbee’s clients has as well. The Houston Police Department began an investigation into Watson on Friday. Solis alleges Watson touched her with his genitals during their massage session, which occurred at Solis’ residence.

Another of the massage therapists to accuse Watson, Lauren Baxley, revealed her identity Tuesday as well through a letter. Baxley accuses Watson of contacting her with his genitals multiple times, according to NFL.com. The NFL has been in contact with Buzbee, according to ESPN.com’s Ed Werder. The league has been investigating the Watson accusers’ claims for weeks.

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, responded to Solis’ account by indicating her claim of not coming forward for monetary purposes was disingenuous. Buzbee sought a $100K settlement on Solis’ behalf before she filed the civil lawsuit, Hardin’s statement read. Hardin-provided emails involving the settlement proposal between Watson’s camp and Buzbee’s reveal standard pre-litigation communications, however, according to Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio.

In a letter to season-ticket holders Monday, the Texans addressed the Watson developments.

We want to assure you that we take these allegations very seriously,” the McNair family said in a statement. “While we await the conclusion of these investigations, we express our strong stance against any form of sexual assault. Our family and the entire Houston Texans organization are deeply troubled by any form of abuse and we condemn this type of behavior.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Houston Police Department Opens Deshaun Watson Investigation

The Houston Police Department received a report of an allegation against Deshaun Watson and is now conducting an investigation into the Texans quarterback (Twitter link).

Prior to Friday, none of Watson’s 20-plus accusers had gone to the police. The attorney representing Watson’s accusers, Tony Buzbee, indicated he would not take these accusations to the police, Aaron Reiss of The Athletic tweets. One accuser has done so, however, though it is not known if the complainant is among the 21 accusers who previously filed civil suits against Watson.

Today, a complainant filed a report with the Houston Police Department concerning Deshaun Watson,” Houston PD’s statement read. “As with any allegation, the Houston Police Department is now conducting an investigation and will not comment further during the investigative process.”

Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, subsequently indicated his legal team will cooperate fully with the Houston PD’s investigation, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

Twenty-one women have accused Watson of sexual assault or sexual misconduct; 18 different massage therapists have voiced support for Watson, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reports. The NFL began its investigation into Watson more than two weeks ago.

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Texans To Consider Alex Smith As Deshaun Watson Replacement?

The Texans have yet to engage in trade talks for Deshaun Watson, but the calls are still coming in — even in the midst of Watson’s off-the-field situation. If the Texans move on from Watson or lose him to league discipline, former Washington quarterback Alex Smith could be considered for the role, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link). 

[RELATED: 49ers Monitored Deshaun Watson]

Smith suffered his horrific leg injury against the Texans in 2018, but managed to return to the field in 2020. According to the QB, Washington didn’t necessarily want him back. Smith went on to go 5-1 in his starts and help WFT capture the NFC East title. Smith was, understandably, not at his best. Last yar, he threw for six touchdowns against eight interceptions with a 78.5 QB rating.

When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan,” Smith said earlier this year. “They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance.”

Ron Rivera & Co. went on to cut Smith, saving $14.7MM against the cap. Although they didn’t want to give Smith a chance – or a 2021 return — the Texans could be willing to give him an opportunity.

Watson is facing upwards of 20 lawsuits alleging a variety of sexual misconduct. The league office could move to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list, which would keep him off the field while the legal situation plays out.

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49ers Monitored Deshaun Watson

Prior to swinging a deal for the No. 3 overall pick in this year’s draft — which they have admitted they will use on a quarterback — the 49ers monitored Deshaun Watson‘s availability, as Nick Wagoner of ESPN.com writes. That’s not terribly surprising, as the Niners were reportedly high on Watson’s list of preferred destinations, and San Francisco has been connected in some way or another to many of the quarterbacks that were on the trade and free agent markets this offseason.

Ultimately, after the club managed to retain key players like left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczyk, and after Watson’s off-field situation made a trade for him infeasible, GM John Lynch approached ownership with the proposal to acquire the No. 3 pick from Miami. Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan believe the roster is championship-ready, and while they feel they can win with Jimmy Garoppolo under center — after all, the Garoppolo-led 49ers were in the Super Bowl about 14 months ago — they knew they needed a backup plan given Jimmy G’s injury history. And, with the 2022 class of collegiate QBs looking like an uninspiring group at the moment, San Francisco decided the time was right to make a bold move to secure a top prospect who would represent a Garoppolo fallback plan this year and who has a real chance of becoming a top-flight passer down the line.

The fact that the club was looking at players like Joe Flacco and Andy Dalton even after they had initiated talks to make a move up the draft board underscores the fact that the team is not comfortable with Garoppolo on a long-term basis and was considering trading him and replacing him with a different veteran that could have served as a bridge to a younger passer. Of course, a trade for Watson would have obviated the need for a rookie signal-caller, but even if Watson weren’t facing legal issues, there would have been stiff competition for his services, if the Texans had chosen to move him at all. While a player like Trey Lance, Justin Fields, or Mac Jones are hardly the sure thing that Watson is, we know that Shanahan prides himself on his ability to get the most out of his quarterbacks.

Garoppolo, meanwhile, was understandably unhappy when he learned that the team was drafting his replacement, and it sounds as if Shanahan made no bones about the fact that 2021 is looking like Garoppolo’s last year in San Francisco. As Wagoner writes, Shanahan said Garoppolo ultimately understood the plan to bring him back for “one more go” and “rehabilitate his value” (presumably for a trade in 2022).

“I’m sure Jimmy was a little pissed off from it, just like I would be, too,” Shanahan said. “The more mad Jimmy gets, usually the better he gets. (If) Jimmy just gets madder and stays healthy, this is going to be a good thing for Jimmy, too, which could be a great problem for the 49ers.”

As for who the 49ers might take at No. 3? Jones is a highly accurate passer, especially on intermediate throws, and boasts a terrific deep ball. In other words, he checks a lot of Shanahan’s boxes. He is also said to have high-level football IQ and excellent leadership abilities, and while many pundits have suggested his ceiling is lower than that of Lance or Fields, ESPN’s Adam Schefter cites one NFC GM who says teams have Jones graded much higher than the media does (via Dalton Johnson of NBC Sports Bay Area). As such, Schefter says he would not be surprised if the 49ers pull the trigger on Jones.

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