Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson is content to get paid not to play football this season as he awaits clarity on the civil and criminal investigations into widespread allegations of sexual misconduct and assault he is facing in Houston. And with those matters still far from resolution, there is a strong feeling among NFL general managers and execs that Watson will not be going anywhere this season.
The trade deadline is already less than two months away, and no franchise has been willing to meet the Texans' price of three first-round picks and at least two second-round picks (or a quality player still on his cheap rookie contract). And, with the NFL nowhere near making a conclusive ruling on Watson's status as long as the Texans continue to pay him not to play as his legal issues persist, no team has been -- or almost certainly will be -- willing to pay such a steep price for a quarterback with such an uncertain future.
"How does anyone make that trade now?" said one NFL exec who has been in contact with the Texans. "Who does it? You don't know what you are getting and as soon as you get him the league steps in and puts him on the Exempt List. You think they want him on the field right now?
"We've checked with the league, and they have no idea when any of this will be cleared up. So what are you trading for? Give up all those picks and he isn't playing anyway and he's making $35M next year and he still might be on the Exempt List or suspended then? Why would you do it now? What owner is taking that risk?"
One general manager who has been closely watching the situation said: "The timing just doesn't work right now. I know people are saying Miami, and I know they really want him, but if they trade for him there's still a good chance he isn't playing for them this year, anyway."
Meantime, the Texans are dead set on extracting as much value as possible for Watson, even if it means paying him $11M to sit. The team is in dire straights from a personnel standpoint and is desperate to climb out of the hole former coach/GM Bill O'Brien helped dig by making poor trades and transactions leaving them bereft of elite talent and short on picks. Moving Watson at the right time for the right price could define rookie GM Nick Caserio's tenure.
"Nick's not going to budge," said another GM who has been in contact with him. "This is his only way out. He has to hold firm. The owner is on board with paying (Watson), so if they have to wait for this to be resolved next year, so be it. They'll wait until 2022 to make the right trade."
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