The Houston Texans quarterback has been a bright spot for the team, leading them to a 7-5 record. Now he’s back on the field and will be playing against the New England Patriots in week 12 of this NFL season.
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HOUSTON, Texas — Even though Deshaun Watson went to the facility on Sunday morning, don’t expect to see him on the field as the Houston Texans prepare to take the field for training camp on Wednesday.
Despite the fact that Watson remains on the team’s roster, he is the subject of 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and improper conduct. Watson requested a transfer in January, before the lawsuits were filed, because he was dissatisfied with the team’s direction. Aside from the continuing litigation, it’s unclear if another club will trade for Watson.
Here’s an update on the Texans’ quarterback issue and the current state of affairs in Houston:
Watson reported to training camp for a reason.
It’s simple: he didn’t want to face a $50,000 punishment for each day he didn’t report. Fines for holdouts are no longer pardoned under the current CBA, which took effect in 2020.
In June, the Texans decided to skip their required minicamp. If the Texans had conducted minicamp and Watson had not shown up, he would have been fined $95,877.
Watson’s position on being traded had not altered, according to two people who were at the facility on Sunday when he arrived, and he reported to avoid getting penalized.
In January, general manager Nick Caserio and coach David Culley said unequivocally that Watson would not be traded. However, when the lawsuits were filed in March and April and Watson’s legal predicament progressed, it became apparent that the quarterback would be moved at some point.
It’s unclear if that will happen this week, before the Nov. 2 trade deadline, or after the season, after draft selection slots have been determined. If the return value isn’t there, don’t expect Caserio to move Watson simply to get him off the roster. Two league officials informed ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that the Texans’ price for moving Watson was a mix of five high draft selections and starting-caliber players.
What is the status of the litigation now?
Following a lot of public fighting between attorneys Rusty Hardin (Watson’s attorney) and Tony Buzbee (the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs), the parties are now in the discovery phase.
Deshaun Watson reported to the Texans on Sunday, but his trade request has not been withdrawn. Kelvin Kuo/AP Photo
Depositions are scheduled to begin in September if these cases go to trial, according to the docket. The plaintiffs would be deposed before Watson, who, according to the court schedule, cannot be deposed until February 22, 2022.
The cases would not be settled until after the 2021 NFL season unless a deal is reached.
Are there any criminal charges pending?
Hardin told ESPN’s John Barr on Monday that ten women had made accusations against Watson with Houston police. Eight of the women are among the 22 women who have filed civil cases against Watson, according to Hardin; two women have not filed civil complaints against Watson.
The inquiry and the number of women who have made complaints were both kept under wraps by Houston police.
What is Watson’s next step?
The team will hit the field for the first time at training camp on Wednesday. According to two league sources, Watson is not anticipated to play. Before the Texans begin practice, here are some choices for the team and Watson:
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Watson is traded by the Texans: According to insiders, the Texans have had preliminary talks with other clubs but do not think they have received a meaningful offer.
According to insiders, the Texans are ready to trade Watson before the start of the season if they find the perfect fit, despite the fact that discussions have not progressed much as of Monday morning.
Watson is placed on the exempt list by Commissioner Roger Goodell: Watson would not be able to play if Goodell placed him on the exempt list, but he would be compensated. According to the CBA, Goodell may place Watson on the list in one of three scenarios:
“First, when a player is formally charged with: (1) a felony offense; or (2) a crime of violence, which means he is accused of using physical force or a weapon to injure or threaten a person or animal, of engaging in sexual assault by force or against a person who was incapable of giving consent, or of engaging in other conduct that poses a genuine threat to the safety or well-being of another person. An indictment by a grand jury, the filing of charges by a prosecutor, or the arraignment in a criminal court are all examples of formal charges.”
Watson hasn’t been charged with anything that would put him in that position. “If an inquiry leads the commissioner to think that a player may have violated this policy by engaging in any of the aforementioned behavior, he may act when the circumstances and evidence justify it,” it says.
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“… Third, if a violation involving a crime of violence is suspected but requires more investigation, the commissioner may put a player on the commissioner exempt list on a limited and temporary basis to allow the league to undertake a preliminary investigation.”
The Texans may either excuse him from practice or have him practice indoors if they don’t want Watson to be a distraction, in which case they could either keep him inside (away from the media and fans) or excuse him entirely.
Watson gets suspended: Given the current state of the litigation and the limited time until practice begins on Wednesday, this appears improbable.
Watson has ceased to appear: Watson had reported Sunday since he didn’t want to get penalized, so it’s also doubtful.
What is Houston’s strategy at QB if Watson is traded or not available?
In free agency, the Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to a one-year, incentive-laden contract, and in April, they drafted Davis Mills in the third round.
Barring a Watson trade that sends a quarterback to Houston, Taylor is likely to start the season for Houston. The most pressing issue is how long he will be with the Texans. Houston will have to make a choice on its future quarterback in 2022, and in order to do so, the Texans will need to see what they have in Mills. Expect Mills to see action early in the season if Houston has any difficulties.
Watson may be traded to the Texans in a number of places.
The Philadelphia Eagles, Denver Broncos, Miami Dolphins, and Carolina Panthers are all teams who might be potential trade partners.
Because they have several first- and second-round choices in 2022, the Eagles are an intriguing prospective trade partner.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, the Broncos are interested in Watson, but they are keeping an eye on the quarterback landscape. The Broncos have been noncommittal on anything other than preparing Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater for the season, but they are keeping an eye on the quarterback landscape. Former teammate (and current Bronco) Kareem Jackson stated in June that Watson is excited to join the Broncos.
Watson, who excelled at nearby Clemson, may be a safer bet for Carolina than the newly acquired Sam Darnold, despite the Panthers having already bought up Darnold’s 2022 option for a guaranteed $18.8 million.
Meanwhile, sources informed ESPN in January that Watson’s favorite destination might be Miami. In the following two drafts, the Dolphins will have three first-round selections. Watson’s contract includes a no-trade provision, so he may opt to reject a deal that the Texans are prepared to make.
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