As quarterback news goes, Tuesday afternoon started off benignly enough, if you're a Houston Texans fan. Shortly after Andy Dalton filled what appeared to be the final open spot for a starting quarterback by signing a one year deal with the Chicago Bears, the Houston Texans signed former Ravens, Bills, Browns, and Chargers signal caller Tyrod Taylor to a one-year deal.
Former Chargers' QB Tyrod Taylor reached agreement on a one-year deal worth up to $12.5 million with the Houston Texans, sources tell ESPN.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 16, 2021
With what's been going on with the Texans and Deshaun Watson, in their well chronicled standoff, Taylor appears to be the perfect fit on a one-year deal. If somehow the Texans bring Watson back (unlikely, but maybe, although it got much murkier later Tuesday night, more on that in a moment), Taylor is a perfect high level backup. If Watson is not around on Week 1 (much more likely), Taylor is a quarterback who at least makes the Texans competitive.
So this was largely viewed as a positive Texans QB development. What happened later on that evening (and into Wednesday afternoon) could have much more far reaching and potentially serious ramifications. Tuesday evening, prominent Houston attorney Tony Buzbee dropped this post, about a lawsuit he was filing against Deshaun Watson on behalf of a masseuse who says she had an unwanted sexual encounter with Watson, on his Instagram account:
Watson countered with a post of his own later on Tuesday night, denying the charges and revealing that Buzbee and the plaintiff had already approached Watson about a "baseless six-figure settlement":
By Wednesday morning, the story had picked up major steam, to where the Texans felt the need to provide some comment on its existence, even if it was an innocuous, "we are awaiting more information" kind of statement:
Statement from the Houston Texans: pic.twitter.com/zFzpGj3Xfx— Mark Berman (@MarkBermanFox26) March 17, 2021
What's noteworthy about this statement from the Texans is that they found out about these allegations the same way we all did — by opening up Instagram and Twitter. What this means is that Watson did not make the team aware of, at the very least, the attempt at a settlement by Buzbee and the plaintiff as a result of the alleged incident. It's hard to believe that Watson wouldn't notify team security, if the relationship between the player and the team weren't so frosty at the moment, so I take that as a slight indicator that Watson really has fully walled off the Texans from his life. Maybe I'm wrong, but that's how I read those tea leaves.
The noteworthy items in the lawsuit:
1. The plaintiff is a self-employed massage therapist, who works out of her home. The alleged incident, Watson exposing himself and purposefully touching her hand with his genitals, took place in her home. Watson is painted in throughout the lawsuit as predatory and sex-hungry.
2. Watson found the plaintiff on Instagram, and direct messaged her to set up the appointment, which took place almost a year ago, on March 30, 2020. Shortly after the incident, Watson texted the plaintiff to apologize. A few weeks after the incident, two other NFL players messaged the plaintiff to schedule appointments at the recommendation of someone they refer to as "Big D," presumably Watson.
3. The plaintiff is suing for civil assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress, and she is seeking whatever the appropriate exemplary damages are for pain and suffering, mental anguish, and a litany of other detrimental psychological and mental effects from the alleged incident.
But hang on, there is more. By Wednesday afternoon, Buzbee was back at on Instagram declaring that more women will be coming forward with allegations of misconduct from Watson:
For what it's worth, Watson is lawyering up with some serious ammo, as he will be using Rusty Hardin in his defense, setting up a "Wrestlemania main event" level battle of Houston attorneys:
Deshaun Watson is being represented in his civil lawsuit by top Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, according to league sources. Hardin has previously represented Roger Clemens, Adrian Peterson and numerous other athletes and public figures— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 17, 2021
So we preface the part where we discuss sports angles of this story by acknowledging that, if the accusations are true, it's horrible, and Watson should incur whatever punishment the courts deem appropriate. That said, we don't yet know what the truth is. We just know that this could not have happened at a more dramatic juncture in the respective arcs of Watson and his employer, which does make the timing of these lawsuits at least a little curious.
As most every Houstonian knows, Watson has requested a trade away from the Texans. The Texans have been steadfast in saying that he is their quarterback, and they have no intention of trading him, especially just months removed from Watson signing the second most lucrative deal in NFL history. These lawsuits are undoubtedly a fly in the ointment for the Texans, on a few levels.
First and foremost, if the team were to change their minds on trading Watson, then it just got more difficult, at least in the short term. Any trade suitor is going to want to investigate and do due diligence on these allegations. Secondly, trade suitors may look for a discount now on Watson, if he is perceived as damaged goods, in any way. Thirdly, there is the practical matter of investigation and a trial. If both drag on beyond the April 29 NFL Draft, then the Texans' best opportunity to deal Watson (which is absolutely before the draft) will likely come and go while this all plays out.
So now we wait, what for the other women to file their lawsuits, and perhaps wait for Watson to comment further on this situation. One thing we do know — somehow the one year anniversary of the DeAndre Hopkins trade, which was Tuesday, gave us a story even more bizarre and far more salacious than said trade. This is the world of the Houston Texans in 2021.
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