Sean Pendergast

The Deadline To Trade Deshaun Watson Hits This Afternoon

The deadline is upon us for a Deshaun Watson trade in 2021.
The deadline is upon us for a Deshaun Watson trade in 2021. Photo by Eric Sauseda
Whether you embrace the trade drama swirling around Deshaun Watson or you are sick and tired of it, and suffer from extreme "Deshaun fatigue," this afternoon at 3 p.m. is an important milestone for you. That's the deadline for NFL teams to execute any trades during the 2021 season. After this, the next time a trade can be officially consummated is sometime in mid-March of 2022.

As of a couple weeks ago, the buzz surrounding Deshaun Watson was largely limited to the Texans talking trade with one team, the Miami Dolphins, and getting phone calls looking to strike up a conversation from a few more (namely, the Panthers and the Eagles). Safe to say that right now, if a deal gets done today, it will be between the Texans and Dolphins, if for no other reason than the Dolphins are believed to be the only team for whom Watson has waived his "no trade" clause.

According to John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, the parameters of a deal have been agreed to between Houston and Miami, but the only hang-up is the owner of the Dolphins, Stephen Ross, wanting Watson's legal situation settled. Like, literally. He wants Watson to settle the 22 civil lawsuits he currently faces from various women within the massage community.

As of right now, Watson is still fighting those lawsuits, and maintaining his innocence. Perhaps that changes at the last minute. For now, here are a few final thoughts as we reach the home stretch for any chance of a Watson deal in calendar year 2021.

So, if a deal gets done by 3 p.m., who wins?
Well, there are three parties involved in this escapade — the Texans, the Dolphins, and Deshaun Watson. Whether the Texans or Dolphins win this thing is dependent on the final compensation in the deal, and how much risk either party is taking on in consummating the deal. This just in — any trade for Watson still comes with massive risk, legal and otherwise, to be absorbed by SOME party. So let's look at HOW each party wins this deal. First, the Texans win this deal if they get their desired asking price for Watson (believed to be three first round picks and more), and there are no conditions pertaining to Watson's legal situation attached to the draft picks. The Dolphins win the trade if they get Watson, and fairly solid assurances that he is available to play, and low risk moving forward. Watson wins if he gets moved, although the Dolphins are so bad, that it's debatable whether or not it may make sense for Watson to see what trade market develops in 2022 instead of moving on right now.

What if a deal doesn't get done by 3 p.m. today?
If a deal doesn't get done today, then Watson remains inactive each week for the Texans, and he continues to receive weekly game checks that will ultimately add up to around $10 million by the end of the season. One of the reasons that the Texans may pull the trigger on a deal with the Dolphins at a slight discount would be Watson's salary escalating to $35 million in 2022. If Watson's legal situation continued to make him virtually untradable next year, then carrying him at $35 million is pretty painful. If we assume, though, that Watson's legal situation becomes less murky by the spring, then wow, the market that will exist for Nick Caserio to make some hay. The bottom line is this — if Watson isn't traded today, then as a Texans fan, you're rooting for (a) the Dolphins to be awful so Watson will consider more teams as possible new homes, and (b) for as many teams to become QB-needy as possible.

Are these Watson rumors a reason the Dolphins are so bad this season?
It's an interesting question, because the Dolphins were expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, after going 10-6 with MEDIOCRE quarterback play in 2020. It was believed that Watson would be the missing piece to put them in the Super Bowl conversation. Now, they have the same record as the Texans (1-7), and would be gutting their future drafts to acquire Watson. If you think the Watson situation is weighing on their team, listen to this exchange between he'd coach Brian Flores and the Miami media earlier this week:

FLORES_ON_TUA.mp3

There's no way that this Watson rumor mill is NOT causing serious distractions for the players. If nothing else, it undercuts the ability of their current QB, Tua Tagovailoa, to lead this team.

What other Houston Texans are on the trade block?
The short answer is "Everybody is available, at the right price." If I were conducting some sort of pool where I could win money by correctly choosing the Houston Texans who would get traded, my big board would look like this:

1. LB Zach Cunningham
2. DL Charles Omenihu
3. DB Lonnie Johnson
4. TE Jordan Akins
5. Any running back not named Scottie Phillips
6. Brandin Cooks

Cooks would garner, by far, the most draft capital, but I don't think they want to move him.

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 afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast