NFL Insider: ‘Forecast for Deshaun Watson’s Future Cloudy’

It seems that with every passing minute, there is something new coming out about Deshaun Watson. Whether it be about his trade demands, potential suitor’s interest, or the sexual assault allegations.

“To say this is out of character for Watson is an understatement. I spoke to someone close to Watson over the weekend, and this person was stunned at the charges and had never seen him treat women with anything but respect. So let’s wait for all the evidence to surface. It’s smart in such cases to keep an open mind until we see complete details and stories.”

Peter King

On Sunday, there was a report that multiple NFL teams still had interest in trading for the former Clemson standout. However, on Monday, NFL Insider Peter King painted a different picture.

“While lawyers are combing through the allegations, there is no way a team could trade for Watson now,” King said in his Monday Mailbag. “Even if the Texans were to engage teams in talks, a team could not acquire a franchise quarterback as great and promising as the 25-year-old Watson with this Sword of Damocles hanging over his head. No matter how much faith you have in Watson’s goodness, there’s too much we don’t know right now to risk a mega-trade to acquire him.”

King did say that it’s very possible teams will remain interested in Watson, but at the same time said it’s hard to imagine any fan base being ok with trading away a kings ransom to get a quarterback facing the kind of allegations Watson is at the moment.

“Could a team try, while the allegations against Watson hang in the air,” King asked. “Perhaps. One former NFL GM told me Sunday he thinks a smart GM would check in regularly to tell Houston GM Nick Caserio of his interest—regardless how dire it looks now. I suppose… but I can’t see how even the most supportive fan base would be okay with a pursuit of Watson now.”

King also made note of the fact that civil charges are very different from criminal charges, even when it comes to the NFL investigation recently launched into the allegations against Watson.

“The difference between civil and criminal charges is very important to Watson’s NFL future. The NFL draws a strong line between the different courses of legal action. If there are criminal charges, and the cases stretch into September, the NFL could put Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, as it did in 2014 with Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson as they contested similarly ugly allegations. That would take Watson off the field and away from his team, at full pay, while the case or cases are being adjudicated. But if there are no criminal charges and the cases are civil only, the Commissioner’s Exempt List would not be an option, and Watson would likely be allowed to play. Of course, if he is still determined to not play for Houston and voluntarily does not report, then he would incur heavy fines and forfeit his $10.5-million salary for as long as he sits. Also, it’s unlikely but not impossible that any team would trade for him while any civil suits are in progress.”

At the end of the day, King said it’s still far to early to know anything for sure, but for the time being everything is stuck in a holding pattern.

“The forecast for Watson’s future: cloudy. But it’s premature to think of the Commissioner’s Exempt List as a landing spot for Watson—unless criminal charges are filed and the legal timeline stretches into the season.”

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