The Dolphins have the distinction of being the only known NFL team for whom Deshaun Watson has waived his no trade clause. In fact, at the trade deadline this past season, in the first week of November, the Dolphins were ready to trade three first round picks (and then some) for Watson, provided he settled the 22 civil lawsuits against him.
As it turned out, Watson had at least four of the plaintiffs unwilling to settle, and thus, he remained a Houston Texan for the rest of the 2021 season. Now, in the offseason, with resolution to Watson's legal situation still somewhat murky, teams are beginning to punt on the idea of trading a king's ransom for Watson. The latest team to do so, ironically, is the Miami Dolphins.
At the NFL combine on Wednesday, Dolphins GM Chris Grier stated very bluntly the Dolphins' new stance on Watson:
Yikes! This means Watson will need to find some other team that he can approve a trade to, assuming he has zero desire to remain a Texan, which appears to be the case. With that in mind, here are my thoughts on the latest developments with Watson's trade efforts:
Dolphins GM Chris Grier: “The door is shut on Deshaun (Watson).”— Marcel Louis-Jacques (@Marcel_LJ) March 2, 2022
This makes two teams now who are publicly OUT on Deshaun Watson
This proclamation from Chris Grier comes just a couple weeks after the owner of another potential Watson suitor, John Mara of the New York Giants, stated somewhat emphatically that his team would not be trading for Deshaun Watson, citing the salacious nature of the accusations against the Texans' star quarterback. The Giants' removal from the process is probably more damaging than Miami's, as the Giants currently own the fifth and seventh overall picks in the draft. The Dolphins' best pick is the 29th overall pick. either way, this now makes two teams who have had executives state, in no uncertain terms, they will NOT be trading for Watson. The Dolphins' declaration is a fascinating 180 degree turn, as they had a deal with the Texans arranged and ready to go at the November trade deadline, but Watson couldn't settle the 22 lawsuits in time.
How scary is this for Nick Caserio?
So does this mean that the market for Watson might be dwindling? Well, by definition of the word "dwindle," the answer is "Yes." I mean, there ARE two less teams in the mix than there normally would have been, and it's logical to think that there are other QB-needy teams that feel similarly. We only know about the Giants and Dolphins feeling that way because they were asked directly. It's fair to wonder, if you asked decision makers from the dozen or so other teams who could reasonably make a Watson, how many of them would they feel the same way. In the end, Caserio just needs two or three anxious teams to get into a bidding war for Watson's services. I still think, if Watson's legal issues get resolved sufficiently, there will be a robust market for his elite services.
Who are the leaders in the clubhouse now for a trade?
Grier's statement on Wednesday removes one of the leaders in the clubhouse throughout this whole process, so this thing is now thrown wide open. I would say the list of frontrunners, and now we really are guessing with the Dolphins out of the mix, would go like this (with one sentence on each one as to why they're on the list):
TAMPA BAY: The Tom Brady Era is over, but the roster is still ready to win now
MINNESOTA: They have the 12th overall pick, and a new head coach
DENVER: They've been on the list all along, and have the 9th overall pick to offer
CAROLINA: Same as Denver, but with a higher pick (6th overall) and an owner who reportedly is in love with Watson
WAHSINGTON: They've basically announced they are seeking a new quarterback, and have the 11th overall pick to offer
PITTSBURGH: One of the winningest franchises, and their Hall of Fame QB (Ben Roethlisberger) just retired a month ago
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