Following a report from Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio that said the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers are trade finalists for disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, one of the two teams appears to be leading the race.
According to Yahoo Sports' senior NFL reporter Charles Robinson, the Dolphins have emerged as the front-runners for Watson. Robinson adds that teams have angled for pick protections in any trade to mitigate a potential Watson suspension or criminal prosecution as he's being sued by 22 women for sexual misconduct.
Sources said the #Panthers, #Broncos and #Eagles were also in some element of trade consideration, but Watson’s contractual right to approve the trade destination - which was signed off on by Houston ownership in his last extension - has weighed heavily in trade opportunities.— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) August 28, 2021
The Texans reportedly want three first-round picks and two second-round picks in exchange for Watson. Tua Tagovailoa would likely head to Houston in any deal with the Dolphins, but that's uncertain right now.
The Dolphins have been tied to Watson since the day it became clear he wanted out of Houston. Adam H. Beasley of the Miami Herald reported in January that Miami was seen as the front-runner to land the three-time Pro Bowler and that the Dolphins were at the top of his list of preferred destinations.
One month later, Watson was photographed hanging out in Miami with Dolphins players Raekwon Davis and Christian Wilkins, the latter of whom he played with for two seasons at Clemson.
Chris Simms of NBC Sports also reported in March that the Dolphins would go "all-in" for Watson if he were made available.
So while the latest news could be seen as somewhat surprising given that Miami has been committed to Tagovailoa thus far, the Dolphins might have been planning a move for Watson for months.
Houston has also been gearing up for Watson's potential departure by drafting Stanford's Davis Mills and signing veteran signal-caller Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Driskel during the offseason.
In 54 games with the Texans, Watson is 28-25, completing 67.8% of his passes for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns against 36 interceptions. He has also ran for 1,677 yards and 17 scores.