Could Texans QB Deshaun Watson Be Placed On The Exempt List Before Training Camp?

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The clock is ticking for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and his future in the NFL.

Watson’s offseason has been filled with drama, as he has been accused of sexual assault in 16 lawsuits.

He’s also openly expressed that he wants out of Houston because, among other things, he doesn’t want to play for new head coach David Culley.

So how does this get all resolved? On a recent radio appearance with Dan Patrick, MMQB writer Albert Breer said that the league might just place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list at the start of training camp.

Being placed on the list means that Watson collects his salary but isn’t counted as a member of the active roster and cannot practice or play in games.

“My sense is the league would probably try to kick the can down the road as long as the legal situation’s still playing out, and the way they kick the can down the road is that exempt clause,” Breer told Patrick on his show.

“They put the player on paid leave and they basically push pause on the whole thing,” Breer said. “With the training camp reporting date being a week and a half, two weeks away, you would think that they would have to make a decision whether or not to put him on the exempt list unless Watson’s lawyers can find a way to reach a settlement between now and July 27.”

Breer went on to say that he doesn’t think Watson will start the season under center anywhere, but he will eventually find a new NFL squad.

“I think there’s a possibility and a good chance he plays in 2021,” Breer said.

“I do not think he’ll be playing for any team in Week 1.”

Written by Matt Loede

Matt has been a part of the Cleveland Sports landscape working in the media since 1994 when he graduated from broadcasting school. His coverage beats include the Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Cleveland Cavaliers. He's written three books, and won the "2020 AP Sports Stringer Lifetime Service Award."


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  1. Texans should make him play for them. If he chooses not to. Call his bluff and watch him lose millions of dollars he’s going to need that money to pay off his accusers. Where is all the media who had his back?

  2. IF Watson’s legal team is able to settle these 22 lawsuits by the end of this week, the agreements will be viewed as Watson admitting guilt in these cases. He would, or certainly should, be suspended for the entirety of the 2021 season at minimum.

    Putting him on the exempt list would require the Texans to pay him while he’s sitting on his butt. Those dollars would be counted against the salary cap of a team that is already a s#!t show, further limiting their options.

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