A Harris County grand jury declined to indict Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson on criminal charges on Friday. Watson faced nine criminal complaints stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct. No longer facing criminal charges, Watson’s trade interest is expected to pick up.
Watson still faces more than 20 civil suits from those accusing him of sexual misconduct. It is unclear if the NFL will suspend him, as the league is also conducting its own private investigation.
Deshaun Watson’s trade interest expected to pick up
With Watson avoiding criminal charges, his prospect of facing jail time is no longer a concern for NFL teams. However, he still faces 22 civil suits stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct and an independent NFL investigation into his actions remains open.
However, with criminal charges no longer a possibility, several teams could look to make a deal for Watson, who still has a no-trade clause attached to his contract.
With that said, several franchises are likely to look into Watson over the next few days in hopes of upgrading their QB1 spot.
Head coach Matt Rhule is on the hot seat, and the Panthers seem to be in limbo with Sam Darnold leading the offense. As Pro Football Network NFL Insider Aaron Wilson has reported, Panthers owner David Tepper has been interested in Watson, despite the claims made against him.
Watson went to nearby Clemson and could be a hometown draw for the Panthers’ fan base, who might be quicker to embrace him than others. The Panthers own the sixth overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, which should appeal to the Texans, who are looking for a massive return for the controversial star.
The Seahawks traded away franchise cornerstone QB Russell Wilson earlier this week. In return, the team received two first-round picks and two-round second picks, along with a trio of veteran players.
In theory, Seattle could turn around and offer that same package — along with other pot-sweetening assets — to Houston for Watson. Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll is in his 70s, and it wouldn’t make sense for the franchise to face a full-on rebuild with him at the helm.
Eagles GM Howie Roseman sent an investigator to Houston to check in on Watson’s legal situation last year. The Eagles are always looking to improve their roster and own three first-round picks heading into next month’s draft.
While PFN has reported multiple times that Watson’s interest in the Eagles is non-existent, things in the NFL seem to change rather rapidly. Perhaps a reworking of his contract could entice Watson to change his mind. Until Houston trades Watson, the Eagles are likely to keep trying to work out a deal. If all else fails, the team feels very comfortable with Jalen Hurts, multiple sources unable to speak freely have told PFN.
As with the Eagles, there seems to be a lot standing in the way of a Watson-Dolphins partnership. Brian Flores is no longer in Miami, and the Dolphins’ brain trust has publicly stated that it is out on a Watson deal. That said, Carroll and Seahawks GM John Schneider said they didn’t intend to trade Wilson a little over a week ago, and everyone saw how that turned out. With criminal charges off the table, could owner Stephen Ross take another shot at Watson?
Las Vegas Raiders
Yes, Derek Carr remains at the top of the Raiders’ depth chart. And, yes, there is reason to believe that he could run Josh McDaniels’ new offense. That said, Carr and the Raiders haven’t reached a long-term extension so far this offseason, so the possibility of the lame-duck QB getting replaced remains open.
If the Raiders can swing a trade for Watson, they could then look to recoup a lot of the value from the mega-deal with another blockbuster trade of Carr to the Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, or another team on this list.