Tyrod Taylor will be the Texans’ starting QB for Sunday’s regular-season opener against the Jaguars, and perhaps for the entire 2021 season. But Deshaun Watson — who will be a healthy scratch — is the one generating all the news and rumors.
At least until the November 2 trade deadline, or thereabouts, Watson will continue to watch games from the sideline. Although there has been plenty of chatter that the league could place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list until his legal dilemma is resolved, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk points out that there is no reason for the NFL to take such action if it doesn’t have to. With the Texans content to pay Watson to sit while they wait for the right trade offer, and with Watson happy to collect a paycheck while never playing another snap for Houston, the embattled signal-caller is effectively on paid leave as it is.
So don’t expect anything to change in that regard unless Watson is traded. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, some of the clubs that expressed interest in dealing for Watson this offseason could become more aggressive around the deadline if their current QB situations prove to be unsatisfactory. Rapoport’s sources suggest that teams like the Dolphins, Eagles, Panthers and Broncos might revisit Watson talks if need be.
But rival GMs tell Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports that a trade is highly unlikely, which obviously doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Rapoport hears that the criminal side of the situation is still weeks away from a resolution, and we already knew that Watson’s deposition for the civil suits will not take place until February 2022. As one exec put it, “How does anyone make that trade now? Who does it? You don’t know what you are getting and as soon as you get him the league steps in and puts him on the exempt list. You think they want him on the field right now? We’ve checked with the league, and they have no idea when any of this will be cleared up.”
Still, the Dolphins loom as a potential trade partner. As Florio reports in a separate piece, it was not Watson’s uncertain availability that prevented Miami from swinging a deal for the three-time Pro Bowler recently; it was the asking price.
Texans GM Nick Caserio is determined to get as much for Watson as possible. We have heard that Caserio is seeking three first-round picks and at least two second-rounders, but Adam Schefter of ESPN.com says Caserio wants a combination of six players and picks. Regardless, it’s a massive price tag, and while the Dolphins were apparently willing to take a big gamble, they were not prepared to go quite as far as Caserio would like.
But if Watson is not indicted, and if Dolphins QB Tua Tagovailoa should struggle over the season’s first few weeks, perhaps Houston and Miami can find a middle ground before November 2.