After speculation swirled and trade rumors heated up in the days leading up to the trade deadline, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is officially staying in Houston for the remainder of the 2021 NFL season.
After an offseason trade request and a few months of controversy, including 22 sexual misconduct lawsuits and a pending criminal investigation, Watson is still firmly planted on Houston’s bench, and will remain there until the 2022 offseason. Both Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor will remain the team’s QBs in Watson’s absence, while GM Nick Caserio will likely reopen these discussions following the season.
Even after prices were named and a “deal” was reportedly agreed to, Watson is sticking in Houston. Here’s what we know about why a Watson trade never came to fruition despite several weeks of rumors.
MORE: Full list of NFL trades completed before 2021 deadline
Why didn’t the Texans trade Deshaun Watson?
Watson’s legal standing
The predominant factor is Watson’s legal standing stemming from the sexual assault, harrassment and misconduct allegations which have persisted since the spring.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Dolphins — the front-runner for a Watson deal — are concerned over Watson’s standing with law enforcement and with the league, leading to doubt for a trade.
Watson is currently facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct, harrassment and assault, though no formal criminal charges have been filed against him. The NFL has yet to suspend Watson given the lack of information they have on the investigation, and they also have yet to place him on the NFL’s commissioner exempt list.
There are also 10 criminal complaints against Watson pending review by a grand jury, which also casts further doubt around Watson’s availability.
Dolphins owner did not sign off on trade
To that end, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross was reportedly hesitant to sign off on any trade involving Watson, originally surfacing last week.
A few hours before the deadline, reports surfaced that Ross wouldn’t sign off on any deal, citing “contingencies” that weren’t met.
Although the Dolphins did due diligence on Deshaun Watson and had conversations with Houston, Miami will not make a trade for the QB, per source. Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross, who had contingencies that needed to be met for any deal, made the final decision to not move forward.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 2, 2021
It’s unclear what those “contingencies” were, exactly, but clearly they were enough not to push the Dolphins into making a deal before the deadline.
Price too high
Another reason why teams were hesitant to deal for Watson: Reports indicate that Texans GM Nick Caserio has yet to soften on his price demand for Watson, which was originally set at three first-round draft picks and more. Instead, Pro Football Talk reported Caserio and the Texans upped the price for Watson once they caught wind that the civil cases may be settled outside of court.
PFT also reported that “talks cratered” once the price was raised again, leaving no deal to get done prior to the Nov. 2 trade deadline. SI’s Albert Breer also added in that, while Watson and Houston owner Cal McNair wanted a split, Caserio was unwilling to lower his
The Eagles, Panthers, Broncos and Dolphins were all, at one point or another, linked to Watson in trade rumors. Reports indicate that Watson would only waive his no-trade clause to head to Miami.
But, this story is far from ending, apparently.