There have been few developments on the Deshaun Watson front over the last few weeks. Nearly two dozen women filed civil lawsuits against the Houston Texans QB for alleged sexual misconduct and assault. Watson's team released a public statement after those lawsuits were filed denying all charges and requesting a jury trial on April 19. Since then, it's been quiet.
The NFL is closely watching the proceedings and, if the situation is not resolved by September, it feels likely Watson will be put on the Commissioner's List to begin the year. A suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy will probably be waiting regardless of the outcome of the lawsuits. Once a conclusion is reached and punishments are doled out, it's really anyone's guess what will happen. Before news of the lawsuits, there were murmurs that Watson would rather sit out 2021 than play for the Texans again, and after everything that's happened the Texans probably don't want him back in their uniform either.
A Watson trade could still be coming, even if it comes much later than we all anticipated when his trade demand first hit the news cycle. Peter King discussed all this in his Football Morning in America column for NBC and said that if Watson were to get traded next offseason, there are two teams he identifies as the most likely landing spots: the Eagles and Panthers.
I think predicting the future of Deshaun Watson is fraught with, well, it’s impossible. I just think by a year from today he’ll have a new home. This is a gut feeling. It’s impossible to predict the future with so many legal issues involved. And depending on the outcome of the cases, several teams might not want to even think about Watson, and rightfully so. If he’s free to play football unencumbered by legal issues in 2022, here are my odds on Watson’s next football team, with a tie at the top:
3-1: Philadelphia. A likely need, plus Eagles are in perfect position to deal with three first-round picks (if Carson Wentz plays three-quarters of the Indy season).
3-1: Carolina. Owner David Tepper would find the resources to do a deal.
With the caveat King stated, these two franchises do make the most sense. The Eagles picked up an extra first from the Dolphins to move back to No. 12 overall in this year's draft, and if Carson Wentz hits the 70 percent of snaps played milestone in Indianapolis this season, that makes two first-round picks in addition to all of their own to add to the war chest. The Panthers were among the top teams linked to Watson leading up to news of the lawsuits and chose to take a swing at a reclamation project in Sam Darnold in 2021 rather than picking a young QB on a rookie deal in the draft. Both options theoretically have a replacement quarterback to offer.
It's ultimately anybody's guess as far as what will happen with Watson. But if some GM out there feels good enough about the whole situation to offer the Texans a trade package, it's hard to imagine they'll say no. Philadelphia seems to make the most sense here between the assets they've acquired and the need they'll likely have unless Hurts blows everyone's expectations out of the water in 2021. But a lot can change between now and the 2022 offseason.