Even as his legal status has parked a dark cloud over his 2021 playing status and possibly beyond, Deshaun Watson believes he’ll be traded before the regular-season begins in two weeks and hopes that trade will be to the Miami Dolphins, a source close to the player said Saturday.
Watson, who has a no-trade clause on his current contract, has strong say about which potential trade partner the Houston Texans can deal with in moving their Pro Bowl quarterback.
And Watson, who requested a trade from Houston months ago, prefers to play in Miami.
Or for the Carolina Panthers.
The Philadelphia Eagles, a team with perhaps the most draft capital to give for Watson, are not believed to be a strong possibility because the player doesn’t have that team high on his wish list. And, again, Watson can veto any trade.
Watson’s affinity for playing in Miami has remained since before the draft when he initially identified the New York Jets and then the Dolphins as his top two desired locations.
The Jets, obviously, have dropped off Watson’s list of teams because they drafted Zach Wilson with the No. 2 overall selection in the April draft.
Watson’s desire has not prevented the Texans from speaking with multiple other teams about a possible trade. But, knowing Watson’s ability to derail a trade he doesn’t want, Houston general manager Nick Caserio has spoken multiple times with the Dolphins and Panthers, according to a league source.
Despite this, no trade is imminent, according to another source.
The Texans are said to be holding a firm line on the idea of wanting as many as five draft picks for Watson despite his current civil and possible criminal problems.
The Dolphins, interested in the quarterback but wanting to mitigate the risk of Watson’s uncertain future, have so far resisted the idea of including the three first-round picks the Texans have requested.
The Texans, by the way, are so far not interested in including Dolphins current starting quarterback Tua Tagovailoa in a trade.
So where does that leave everyone?
Watson still wants to be traded.
The Texans are willing to trade him but their starting point virtually ignores the idea Watson is in legal jeopardy or could be suspended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, one league source told Outkick.
The Dolphins, meanwhile, remain open to acquiring Watson for the right price.
The Dolphins are willing to risk acquiring a quarterback who may not be available to them even this year because Watson is obviously very good and won’t turn 26 for another two weeks.
But, again, there is a limit for the Dolphins and so far they have not come sufficiently close to accepting Houston’s asking price.
Watson, it must be repeated, is facing 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints from women who say he assaulted them sexually. The FBI, having already spoken with parties involved, is investigating, as is the Harris (Tex) County prosecutor.
The NFL season begins Sept. 12 for the Dolphins, Texans and Panthers.