Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is inactive for Week 1 of the 2021 NFL season, and he’ll likely be out every game for a while. But a new timetable is emerging for when a blockbuster trade might unfold during the regular season.
The Texans wanted to avoid putting Watson on their 53-man roster before the season, exploring trades with several clubs. Houston had significant negotiations with the Miami Dolphins, with the AFC contender emerging as the front-runner for a deal. But with the Texans unwilling to back down from their asking price, Miami walked away.
Watson is now on the Texans’ roster, and he’ll stay on it with the NFL waiting to place him on the Commissioner’s Exempt list until criminal investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct and assault conclude. As a result, the Texans plan to keep him inactive until a trade can be worked out.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, a Watson trade could be revisited close to the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 2. The Dolphins, Philadelphia Eagles, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos all expressed interest in acquiring him earlier this offseason.
With Watson facing 22 civil suits alleging sexual assault and misconduct, in addition to 10 criminal complaints, those clubs have backed off. Furthermore, with the NFL season underway, general managers want to see how their quarterbacks perform before determining if they’d make a Watson trade.
Even if multiple teams want to revisit a deal, Houston’s asking price could be a major hurdle to overcome.
It’s created a lot of uncertainty surrounding his NFL future. Even if he isn’t convicted on criminal charges, the NFL could suspend him for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. There are currently no signs of a settlement in the civil suit, and that joint case isn’t set to be heard until 2022.
Despite everything going on, Houston isn’t budging off its asking price. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Sunday, NFL executives believe Texans general manager Nick Caserio won’t trade Watson for anything less than six combined players and picks.
The Texans want premium picks and players, too. Caserio reportedly insisted on three first-round picks and additional assets from the Dolphins. If an NFC team wants him, it would likely require a pair of future first- and second-round picks along with young players.
As of now, no team is willing to meet that asking price. Clubs are willing to do it conditionally, with the return lessened if Watson is suspended or criminal investigations determine he committed sexual assault. But the Texans aren’t willing to do that.
For the time being, Watson is stuck in Houston. The franchise will start Tyrod Taylor in Week 1, and rookie Davis Mills is waiting for an opportunity behind him.
The Texans will certainly keep exploring deals during the season, with Caserio being one of the most active general managers on the trade market. But barring sudden resolutions to his criminal and civil cases, Watson won’t be seen on the field anytime soon, and he will never play for the Texans again.