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NFL Teams Already Lining Up To Trade For Deshaun Watson

Moments after a Harris County, Texas Grand Jury declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on nine sexual assault and misconduct criminal complaints Friday, a clearly relieved Watson let his immediate intentions be known following his year in legal limbo.

“I’m going to keep fighting to rebuild my name and rebuild my appearance in the community,” Watson told reporters gathered outside the courthouse. “We’re going to continue on the legal side off the field, handle what we need to handle, but also ready to get back on the field, been preparing with that and ready to go with that.

“I thank my family, all my close supporters that’s been behind me this past year. I thank my team that’s been behind me, supporting me, keeping me up this past year and, yeah, I’m going to continue to keep pushing forward and build my name back to where it was, if not better.”

Watson is not finished with his legal issues. He has 22 civil cases pending against him from women claiming misconduct of a sexual nature during massages.

Depositions in those lawsuits were taken Friday with more scheduled for Tuesday.

And the NFL office in New York will still have a say about his future on the field.

“We have been closely monitoring all developments in the matter which remains under review of the personal conduct policy,” the NFL said in a statement.

But if Watson’s goal is to rehabilitate his name, that process has already begun among NFL teams, with at least one calling the Texans Friday to try to engage in trade talks with general manager Nick Caserio, according to a source.

No details of that conversation are available and it’s unclear if the call connected because the source said he knew the call was being made but not its results.

But the point is there’s new urgency in the chase for the most talented, accomplished and available quarterback remaining on the market this offseason.

And there’s going to be multiple teams trying to land Watson.

This list could include Seattle, Carolina, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Tampa Bay, Las Vegas, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Cleveland, and Miami.

Some of those teams obviously need a starting quarterback while others are open to upgrading from their current starter. And several of these teams have vowed either openly or through sources to not have interest in Watson — with the Steelers and Dolphins chief among those.

The Dolphins were the most aggressive suitor for Watson last year because head coach Brian Flores believed (correctly, by the way) that Watson was a huge upgrade over second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.

But Flores was fired after the season and general manager Chris Grier said opinions in the building have shifted since the hiring of Mike McDaniel.

“The door [is] shut on Deshaun,” Grier said at the NFL Combine. “At the end of the day, Mike and the staff have come to do a lot of work and studied a lot of Tua, and they feel good about his developmental upside, what he can be, and then the fit in the offense. I think we’re good with Tua.”

This would be so Dolphins: They all but turned their back on Tagovailoa in the middle of the 2021 season to chase Watson. And now that Watson’s cleared a criminal legal hurdle, they’re turning their back on acquiring him in favor of Tagovailoa.

But everyone should note that despite his seemingly unequivocal move away from Watson, Grier’s history is to never entirely close the door on anything. Several years ago he closed the door on trading offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil at least twice before he eventually traded Tunsil to Houston.

That same year he closed the door on trading for Jadeveon Clowney until he tried to trade for Clowney and even hosted him on a visit to the Dolphins facility.

So “no” often means “maybe” with the Miami Dolphins.

Regardless whether the Steelers and Dolphins join the Watson derby, the trade that definitely will happen will be a collaboration between the Texans, the team acquiring Watson, and Watson himself.

Watson, you see, has a no-trade clause so he can effectively choose which team he’ll be traded to. Last year he wanted to play for Flores in Miami. Flores is Pittsburgh’s linebacker coach now.

There’s no knowing (yet) what Watson’s preference is lately. Last year before he was interested in joining the Dolphins he wanted to play for the New York Jets.

Whatever team gets Watson will have to give up three first-round draft picks plus other considerations. That’s the price the Texans have set and will likely get.

And while the Texans would like to send Watson to the NFC and definitely not let him play in the AFC South — which would rule out Tennessee and Indianapolis — it’s unclear how Watson and the compensation involved will affect that.

This much is clear: Watson won a huge legal victory on Friday.

The district attorney’s office in Harris County presented evidence to the Grand Jury for approximately six hours related to nine criminal complaints filed against Watson in 2021 alleging activities that included him exposing himself to female massage therapists and sexual assault.

The Grand Jury believed the evidence presented did not rise to the standard of showing probable cause to support criminal charges.

“It’s definitely a very emotional moment for me,” Watson said. “I know we’re far from being done handling what we need to handle on the legal side but today is definitely a big day.”

Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

Written by Armando Salguero

Armando Salguero has covered the NFL since 1990 for the Palm Beach Post, Miami Herald and ESPN. He was a 2016 Associated Press Sports Editors Top 10 columnist. He is a Pro Football Hall of Fame selector and AP All-Pro team voter.

7 Comments

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  1. AS ain’t nobody giving up 3 first round picks for this POS besides menacing women what has he ever won last time out 4 games never won shit and you make him sound like he’s something special I mean come on man tell me why he’s so great has he ever even sniffed the playoffs LOL

  2. Guess AS won’t defend his article after blowing smoke up this POS ass well we all know now teams lining up for a dude that won 4 games and never ever won a thing or even got close to any playoffs guys a bum but I’m still waiting

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