For a second consecutive NFL offseason, no one has any idea how things will play out for Deshaun Watson. As the Houston Texans quarterback awaits resolution in his defense against allegations of sexual misconduct, he remains on the Texans payroll despite having not played in a single game last season. He reportedly has a new set of NFL teams he's eyeing as possible destinations (e.g., Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Minnesota Vikings) -- i.e., he'd waive his no-trade clause for -- but it's uncertain if any team would make an offer for him before his criminal and civil proceedings conclude.
It appears there are multiple teams who would at least consider trying to acquire him if the former is resolved though, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. This could be a significant development ahead of 2022 free agency, considering there were reports at least one team was willing to throw the kitchen sink at the Texans in 2021 to land Watson (rumored to have been the Miami Dolphins) via trade, but not before all of his off-the-field issues were completely ironed out.
It's unlikely the Vikings would be a team in the mix for Watson after newly-installed head coach Kevin O'Connell doubled down on the team's belief in Kirk Cousins, but with the Buccaneers desperately trying to next season in the wake of Tom Brady's retirement -- it seems a foregone conclusion they'd be in the running.
As for the Texans, newly-promoted head coach Lovie Smith was noncommittal on the future of Watson in Houston, instead focusing his attention on Davis Mills as starter heading into 2022.
"You don't give out starting positions in the spring, but I love what Davis has done. He's our quarterback going into the season," Smith told Rich Eisen, per Pro Football Talk. "There's a lot of positions I'm worried about. Quarterback is not one of them."
"I love what Davis Mills did last year, I feel real good about Davis leading our team, we've just got to get better people around him."
Smith went on to note he and the Texans will simply continue being patient regarding Watson, who has long made it clear he'll never take another snap for the organization.
"I don't really know Deshaun that way since he wasn't really involved last year," Smith said. "Time takes care of a lot of things and time will take care of that situation too, with a favorable situation for Deshaun and us."
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, expects the grand jury to make a decision on the criminal allegations by April 1, less than one month before the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.