Now, we are coming up on the month of June, and we are actually getting close to some dates that will require some sort of action or public stance from Deshaun Watson (and/or the Texans). In other words, things are about to get very interesting, because we will either get some sort of resolution, or we will get some sort of actual activity from Watson.
Let's lay out the milestone chart for the rest of the summer and beyond. Here are the key dates that you need to circle regarding Deshaun Watson:
June 1, 2021 - Salary cap relief date
This isn't a deadline, but instead a date that changes some of the salary cap calculus going forward. If the Texans trade Deshaun Watson before the season, there will be a salary cap hit that comes with the deal, essentially equal to the remaining prorated portion of his $27 million signing bonus (around $21.6 million worth of a cap hit). If a trade involving Watson is consummated after June 1 (a virtual lock, if a deal does get done), then the Texans can spread that cap hit over 2021 and 2022.
June 15, 2021 - Mandatory minicamp, first day
If you jot down one date for which to give yourself a reminder, this is it. June 15 is the first day of mandatory minicamp. In a normal offseason, if Watson were to miss this minicamp, he would begin accruing fines, fines that the team cannot absolve him of, per the collective bargaining agreement. If Watson were free and clear of any legal issues, he would almost certainly hold out from this minicamp and accrue those penalties. So what happens if his legal case is still open? Does he show up, knowing he may really need to watch his finances if there are settlement checks to cut to 22 different women? Does the team ask him to stay away just to avoid a media circus? This will be fascinating to watch.
July 28, 2021 - Start of training camp (estimated)
Mandatory minicamp is one thing. I mean, we are talking about three measly days on the calendar. The actual start of training camp, though, is another thing entirely. We are talking a period of weeks that lead right into the regular season, and include three preseason games. If Watson's lawsuits are still pending in some fashion, similar questions as we would ask about mandatory minicamp apply here. Only now we are much closer to the start of real football. Again, totally fascinating, if it gets this far.
September 12, 2021 - Week 1, regular season
Here is the first date that the league would need to decide what to do with Watson — punish him with a suspension, place him on the Commissioner's Exempt list while they continue hashing out the evidence, or allow him to go ahead and play. Also a possibility — Watson just staying away, as he was threatening to do before the lawsuits began flying.
November 2, 2021 - Trade deadline (estimated)
I think it is highly unlikely that Watson gets traded during the season, but if he were to get dealt, this would be a logical milestone to watch. Trading for a quarterback in season would be as strange as it gets, but there's been nothing normal at all about this Watson saga (which means an in season trade would be par for the course).
April 28, 2022 - Day 1, 2022 NFL Draft
Here is what I hope is the target to deal Watson, as this would be the best chance for Watson's reputation to be as cleansed as we could hope, and for the Texans to maximize his trade value. Also, at this point, we would know the exact order of the 2022 draft, so there would be no guesswork on where the 2022 picks would land in the first round.
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