Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Depositions Set To Begin This Friday

Tony Buzbee is set to begin deposing Texans QB Deshaun Watson this Friday, March 11.
Tony Buzbee is set to begin deposing Texans QB Deshaun Watson this Friday, March 11. Screenshot/YouTube
After a slight delay handed down by a Harris County judge a few weeks, it appears as though the depositions of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in the 22 civil lawsuits filed against him will begin this Friday, March 11 at 10 a.m., according to the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs, high powered Houston lawyer Tony Buzbee.

As he has done dozens of times throughout this nearly one year saga, Buzbee took to social media to announce the revised start date for the depositions, posting the following to his Instagram account on Friday evening: 

"Depositions are an important part of the civil justice process. A deposition is where a party (or witness) sits in a room and is questioned under oath. All parties are entitled to attend. In this case, due to the number of allegations being made, the court has allocated 48 hours total for Mr. Watson’s deposition. That process starts on Friday, March 11, at 10 am."
Here is the actual post itself:
So what does this all mean? Let's reset some of how we got here, and try to read the tea leaves in the most respectful way possible to all parties involved:

So now wait, exactly which plaintiffs are getting deposed this Friday?
There are a total of 22 plaintiffs who have filed lawsuits against Watson alleging varying sordid acts of sexual misconduct. The depositions were initially slated to begin back on February 24, but Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, requested that the depositions get pushed back into April for two reasons — first, not all of Buzbee's clients had been deposed yet, and procedurally, Hardin believes that should happen before Watson has to answer questions about all his dealings with all of this women, and second, the ten open criminal cases (eight of which were filed by Buzbee clients) make it such that Watson is practically forced to please the Fifth Amendment, according to Hardin.

Hardin feels invoking Fifth Amendment privilege would look bad for Watson. Judge Collier's solution was for Watson to be deposed in all the cases involving plaintiffs that (a) had been deposed already, and (b) did NOT file criminal complaints against the quarterback. There are nine women that fall into BOTH of those categories. Those are the women for whom Deshaun Watson must answer questions, beginning Friday, about his alleged actions.

Do we think Watson actually says anything substantial or noteworthy under oath?
Well, let's make one thing clear — Watson actually sitting and answering ANYTHING under oath is going to be substantial and noteworthy, even if all he does is plead the Fifth Amendment. In fact, per Hardin's concerns about that exact thing, I would submit that Watson's invoking Fifth Amendment privilege would be the MOST noteworthy thing to happen on Friday, because one thing we know — Tony Buzbee will immediately be running to Instagram after the deposition to share transcripts that will help his cases. I don't know if Watson pleading the Fifth helps get a judgment against Watson, but in the court of public opinion, it would be an awful look for Watson to share NOTHING about his side of the story, given how loud his camp has been about his desire to clear his name.

What is the real key date in all this, from a football standpoint?
We can now add March 11 as a key date in this whole saga, assuming a deposition actually takes place. (For what it's worth, some legal experts I've spoken to privately have said that they would be very surprised if Watson speaks under oath AT ALL, but we shall see.

Other key dates are March 16, which is the beginning of the NFL's league year calendar (free agency begins, etc.), and March 20, which is the date on which Watson's 2023 salary and roster bonus, sum total of $37.5 million between the two items, fully guarantees. That's a little scary. However, if you're into the "When is he getting traded away?" portion of our journey, the most key date is probably April 1, which again is the date that Hardin has indicated we should see a resolution to the criminal cases. If Watson is cleared of all criminal charges (again it's "IF", not "WHEN," because there is still a chance he gets charged and does jail time), then he should become a much more tradable asset. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk has indicated that there are teams willing to trade for Watson with open civil suits, so long as the criminal side is squashed. 

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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