It’s easy to understand why the Houston Texans didn’t trade Deshaun Watson before Tuesday’s deadline.
While a breakup still feels inevitable, there simply were too many hurdles to clear, the biggest being Watson’s ongoing legal situation. The star quarterback is facing 22 active lawsuits related to allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior during massage sessions, and a lack of certainty regarding his playing status surely complicated any trade discussions.
The Miami Dolphins, for instance, did their due diligence on Watson, but team owner Stephen Ross reportedly made the final decision to not move forward. Teams (including the ‘Fins) might be more inclined to aggressively pursue Watson this offseason, if/when his legal issues are resolved.
That said, a couple of other stumbling blocks seemingly stood in the way this week, based on Sarah Barshop’s breakdown published Wednesday on ESPN.com.
The first: Trade compensation.
Although John McClain of the Houston Chronicle reported last week that the Dolphins and Texans had agreed on a trade package involving Watson, details about the potential deal were sparse. The Texans reportedly were believed to be seeking three first-round picks plus additional draft compensation and/or players, and McClain noted Houston general manager Nick Caserio should be able to land at least the three first-rounders, but the Dolphins might have balked at that asking price.
Here’s what Barshop wrote:
“(Miami GM Chris Grier) said Wednesday that he didn’t want to get into the specifics of trade offers with other teams, but a team source told ESPN the Dolphins weren’t willing to guarantee all three first-round draft picks Houston wanted the package for Watson to be built around.”
Maybe the Dolphins will enhance their offer this offseason with more clarity regarding Watson’s status. The same can be said for several other teams, especially if quarterback developments across the NFL increase the number of potential suitors, leading to a bidding war for the three-time Pro Bowl selection.
But there evidently was some hesitancy to pony up the package Houston was seeking. And the Texans would have been selling low on Watson had they moved him before Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET.
The second possible barrier: Watson’s no-trade clause.
This perhaps was a huge reason why only the Dolphins seemed to emerge as a realistic landing spot for Watson in the hours leading up to the trade deadline, while other teams, including the Carolina Panthers, appeared to shift gears.
Here’s more from Barshop:
“A no-trade clause in Watson’s contract extension, signed in September 2020, limited Caserio while looking for a trade partner. In fact, Watson would waive his no-trade clause only for the Dolphins, a source told ESPN. The Texans and Panthers did not get very far in trade talks, a source said, because Watson had not agreed to be traded to Carolina.”
Again, a lot could change in the coming months. Watson, who initially requested a trade out of Houston this past offseason, ultimately might be willing to accept a deal to somewhere other than Miami. But it’s another interesting wrinkle, nonetheless, that highlights the level of control the 26-year-old has in what has been a wild saga thus far.