Sean Pendergast

Multiple Teams Would Reportedly Trade For Deshaun Watson If Criminal Complaints Cleared

Who are the ideal trade partners for the Texans in moving Deshaun Watson?
Who are the ideal trade partners for the Texans in moving Deshaun Watson? Photo by Eric Sauseda
We outlined in this space earlier this week exactly where things stand right now in the Deshaun Watson civil lawsuit saga. In short, the deposition wheels are moving slowly, with the first nine pushed back toe early March, and several others not slated until after April 1. That's the bad news.

The good news seemed to be that Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, seemed fairly confident that the other front Watson is facing, possible criminal prosecution for 10 criminal complaints (eight fo which were made by women who are also civil lawsuit plaintiffs), was going to be resolved, one way or the other, by April 1.

My feeling all along has been that getting Watson cleared of CRIMINAL charges has been the more important of the two fronts to resolve for purposes of the Texans getting market value offers for Watson in a trade. My take has been that the civil lawsuits, while containing some pretty disgusting allegations, wouldn't affect his availability. Criminal charges absolutely could, with prison being the worst case scenario. Also, resolution on the criminal side would probably trigger the NFL to finally announce whatever punishment they have for Watson, likely a suspension of some sort, but at least a team trading for him would have clarity on his availability. .

In other words, Watson can still play football with civil lawsuits sitting out there against him. With criminal charges still looming, he's way too risky to trade for. Evidently, there are multiple NFL teams that feel exactly this way, as reported by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk:
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, multiple teams are indeed willing to make the deal, as long as the criminal situation is resolved. Last year, the Dolphins insisted on settlement of all cases before a trade would be finalized. The Panthers were willing to make the deal regardless of the civil (or criminal) cases, but Watson didn’t want to waive his no-trade clause for a trade to Carolina.

The teams currently willing to do a deal without a settlement of the civil cases aren’t known. But they’re out there, lurking and strategizing and planning as the quarterback carousel prepares to spin.

So, while earlier this week we did a scorecard of which NFL teams best match Watson's criteria for a new employer, let's get out in front of April 1, and look at this from the TEXANS' perspective, and ask "Which teams make the best trade partners for Nick Caserio and the Texans?" If I were to come up with the criteria for a good trade partner, it would go as follows:

Deshaun desirability: Does Deshaun want to play there? This matters because he controls things with his "no trade" clause

Draft capital: What type of draft capital can this team offer the Texans? Most importantly, what is there highest pick in the 2022 draft? The higher, the better.

Young players: Does this team have young players on rookie contracts to include in the deal, as Nick Caserio tries to come away with five to seven assets for Watson.

Conference/division alignment: Is this a team in the AFC or NFC? NFC is viewed as the better option as it would get Watson out of the Texans' conference.

So let's rate the same ten potential trade partners we did earlier this week, but do so from the Texans' perspective. Here we go, in ascending order, with each category rated on a scale of 1 to 5  ....

TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS, TOTAL: 12 points
Deshaun desirability: 5
Draft capital: 1
Young players: 2
Conference/division: 4

One of Watson's most desirable places from HIS perspective is the least desirable for the Texans. The Buccaneers are a veteran team, with few young assets, and the 27th overall pick in the draft. Not optimal.

MIAMI DOLPHINS, TOTAL: 12 points
Deshaun desirability: 5
Draft capital: 2
Young players: 3
Conference/division: 2

The team with whom the Texans had a trade lined up at the trade deadline is also way down on my list of teams that's best for the Texans. The Dolphins have multiple 2023 first round picks, but their best pick in this April's draft is the 29th overall, which they acquired from the Niners in the Trey Lance trade.

PITTSBURGH STEELERS, TOTAL: 12 points
Deshaun desirability: 3
Draft capital: 4
Young players: 3
Conference/division: 2

The Steelers have some young players that could interest Caserio, but their first round pick is 20th overall, which isn't great. Also, the Steelers have never finished below .500 in Mike Tomlin's decade and a half as head coach, so future picks will likely be low first round picks.

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES, TOTAL: 13 points
Deshaun desirability: 1
Draft capital: 5
Young players: 3
Conference/division: 4

The Eagles hold the 15th, 16th, and 19th picks in the 2022 draft, which makes them an awesome trade partner. Deshaun Watson has already said, though, that he doesn't want to play in Philly, so that hurts the cause.

CAROLINA PANTHERS, TOTAL: 14 points
Deshaun desirability: 3
Draft capital: 4
Young players: 3
Conference/division:  4

The Panthers, as outlined above, seem to be willing to take on Watson, even WITH all of the lawsuit and criminal case drama. Also, they have the 6th overall pick in the draft, making them among teams with the best picks on this list. They're already missing their 2nd and 4th round picks in 2022 from the Sam Darnold trade, so they would truly be "all in" with a Watson deal.

WASHINGTON COMMANDERS, TOTAL: 14 points
Deshaun desirability: 2
Draft capital: 4
Young players: 4
Conference/division:  4

The Commanders have the 11th pick in the draft, and the second overall pick from two seasons ago, defensive end Chase Young. Those would be two really good foundational pieces to a Watson trade. I am curious if Watson would go play for a team with a horrible owner like Daniel Snyder, given that his issues with the Texans were with ownership.

NEW YORK GIANTS, TOTAL: 14 points
Deshaun desirability: 4
Draft capital: 5
Young players: 1
Conference/division: 4

The Giants are easily the most desirable trade partner, if they were willing to engage, as they literally have TWO picks in the top seven, their own (5th overall) and the Bears' pick (7th overall) from the Justin Fields trade. The big problem — the Giants' owner, john Mara, has publicly stated they won't trade for Watson. We will see if he is telling the truth once Watson is truly tradable.

ARIZONA CARDINALS, TOTAL: 15 points
Deshaun desirability: 4
Draft capital: 3
Young players: 4
Conference/division: 4

The only reason I have them on this list is because the intrigue of a Deshaun Watson-for-Kyler Murray trade, of some sort. I doubt that happens, but it would be the biggest blockbuster of this era of quarterbacks. Let's move on.

DENVER BRONCOS, TOTAL: 15 points
Deshaun desirability: 4
Draft capital: 5
Young players: 4
Conference/division: 2

The Broncos have the 9th overall pick, a ton of young players, and multiple people in and around the Broncos have said that they feel Watson would want to go to Denver. The Broncos also have multiple second and third round picks in this coming draft. The only negative for the Texans would be seeing Watson AT LEAST once every three years, if not more.

MINNESOTA VIKINGS, TOTAL: 16 points
Deshaun desirability: 4
Draft capital: 4
Young players: 4
Conference/division: 4

The Vikings are one of the latest ones to this party, as they just popped up on the radar last week. However, with the combination of the 12th overall pick, some future picks, and maybe a player or two, the Vikings win the day according to this criteria.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast