Even before he became embroiled in an unprecedented legal maelstrom, buried in a tsunami of civil lawsuits for detrimental massage conduct, Deshaun Watson was the most pivotal player in the NFL this offseason. When attorney Tony Buzbee started pounding the figurative litigation nuclear red button, the Houston Texans weren't the only NFL team whose offseason plans were affected.
There were at least a half dozen other NFL teams who had Deshaun Watson up on their war room white board as an action item, with the soon to be (pending legal resolution) fifth year quarterback openly wanting out of Houston via trade. Thus, there were about a half dozen NFL teams who, like the Texans, were disappointed for football reasons that, liable or not liable, Watson finds himself in this current fiasco. (I am going to assume that all 32 teams are disappointed from a purely human, NON-FOOTBALL standpoint.)
That said, even though outwardly it would appear any trade plans for the Texans and Watson are on hold — and multiple reports indicate that the team was ready to start fielding trade offers in April, leading up to the draft — speculation abounded as recently as last week (admittedly, a few lawsuits ago) that some teams may STILL be willing to deal for Deshaun Watson, even with the current drama swirling. An example of that, this clip from the "Pat McAfee Show" with NFL insider Ian Rapoport:
McAfee and his crew rattle off a few potential suitors in that clip, like New England, Miami, and Chicago. By my estimation, here are the five most disappointed teams, if indeed Watson cannot be traded for right now, because of a depressed price or public relations reasons:
We know that Deshaun Watson was a collegiate legend in the Carolinas, having won a national championship at Clemson back in 2016. The Panthers have been in quarterback limbo, ever since Cam Newton's body began breaking down three years ago. Last year, Teddy Bridgewater was the epitome of QB purgatory, and the Panthers wound up with the eighth pick in the draft. Their owner David Tepper reportedly had it BAD for Deshaun Watson, and was ready to trade ample draft equity and current roster talent for Watson, before all the legal trouble. It's going to be tough to bring Watson in now, considering Tepper owns the team because the previous owner, Jerry Richardson, was embroiled in sexual harassment smoke toward the end of his run as owner. On Monday afternoon, the Panthers traded three draft picks for Jets QB Sam Darnold, which would seem to indicate they've begrudgingly moved on from pursuing Watson.
The Broncos are the one team who'd had a current player (and former teammate) of Deshaun Watson speak on the record about an actual conversation with Watson. Former Texans' safety Kareem Jackson confirmed about a month ago that he'd spoken with Watson, and Denver was among the teams the QB would approve a trade to. This got Bronco fans, fatigued from two seasons of Drew Lock, significantly lathered up, but then the lawsuits started rolling in.
You want to know how thirsty Bears fans are for a franchise quarterback? Go read the replies to this tweet from the Bears' Twitter account, where they're bragging about mediocre Andy Dalton as their starting quarterback:
I think the Bears might still trade for Watson, even with these lawsuits pending. Jay Cutler holds all the Bears' team passing records, which is all you need to know about this team's history with quarterbacks.
As it pertains to Watson, there are multiple ways you can construe the series of trades the Dolphins made last week, where in consecutive deals they moved down from 3rd overall in the draft to 12th overall (in a deal with the 49ers), picked up a couple first round picks in the process, then moved up from 12th to 6th overall (with the Eagles) and gave up a first round pick to do so. Either the Dolphins are out on Watson, and thus they don't need the 3rd overall pick as a crown jewel for the Texans anymore, OR they are stockpiling in quantity not quality of picks, and getting ready to hit Nick Caserio with an even bigger abundance of first round picks, granted none as high as 3rd overall this draft. Most likely, this was just some crafty maneuvering to start building around second year QB Tu'a Tagovailoa.
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets had the most to offer the Texans, and had been mentioned as a landing spot early on, but it appears as though they are smitten with Zach Wilson:
When you're getting that "back page" love, that's the real deal in the Big Apple!