Miami Dolphins-Deshaun Watson trade talks heat up — here’s what we know two weeks ahead of NFL season

With the NFL season just two weeks away, have the Miami Dolphins emerged as front-runners for QB Deshaun Watson in a potential trade?

Two weeks before the start of the regular season, a bombshell: The Miami Dolphins-Deshaun Watson trade talk has swelled to a dull roar, with Yahoo’s Charles Robinson going so far as calling them the front-runners. Here’s the latest on what we know.

There are still lots of questions regarding Watson’s status

Watson will never play another down for the Houston Texans after an offseason in which he demanded a trade and then was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 massage therapists.

NFL and multiple criminal investigations are also ongoing, making any deal for Watson fraught with peril. That’s why the sense around football is that the Texans won’t get their asking price — three first-round picks and two seconds — or if they do, the deal will include protections for the team that acquires him in the case of suspension.

But the league has shown no urgency to punish Watson, who has not been charged with a crime or placed on paid leave. The Texans are carrying him on their active roster, but he has not appeared in any preseason game and is listed as the club’s fourth-string quarterback behind Jeff Driskel and Davis Mills.

That, of course, is not reflective of Watson’s ability. He is a three-time Pro Bowler who led the NFL in passing last year.

And he’s good enough to transform a team like the Dolphins — who had one of the league’s best scoring defenses in 2020 — into a Super Bowl contender.

Carolina no longer a major player for Watson

We hear that the Dolphins are one of several teams that have inquired about Watson’s availability over the past two months. The Carolina Panthers are another. But word is the Panthers are no longer viewed as a major player in these talks.

The Eagles have also been in the mix, but their decision Saturday to trade for Jaguars backup Gardner Minshew suggests the organization believes Watson will ultimately land elsewhere.

The Dolphins have kept an open mind about Watson ever since he requested a trade out of Houston prior to free agency. Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he can veto a deal to any team. The Dolphins are believed to be high on the list of franchises he would approve being sent to.

The avalanche of allegations — which the NFL has called “serious” — slowed trade talks. But they didn’t end them. And with the regular season just days away, there’s a growing sense that Watson will be allowed to play this year, barring an arrest, of course.

A trade wouldn’t necessarily mean Tua Tagovailoa is gone

The Dolphins, meanwhile, have a starting quarterback. His name is Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.

Tua has looked better in practices and preseason games than he did during his rookie season. Still, multiple sources tell PFN that some lingering concerns remain within the organization about his development.

However, we hear that even if the Dolphins do trade Watson, it does not necessarily mean Tua is gone. Depending on what they’re offered in trade talks, the Dolphins could potentially keep Tua on their roster as an insurance policy in case Watson has to miss significant time, either this year or next.

The Dolphins would have essentially the same salary cap figure for Tua over the next two years if he is on the team or off it.

Adam Beasley is the NFL Director for Pro Football Network. You can read all of Adam’s work here and give him a follow on Twitter @AdamHBeasley.

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