Although many in the Texans organization want to turn the page and move on from Watson as soon as possible, Houston is ready to reopen trade discussions centered on the quarterback in the offseason, according to league sources.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio has been unwavering in his stance and determination to get full value for Watson and, to date, has been unwilling to trade him for anything less than what he believes Watson is worth.
Texans owner Cal McNair privately has told people that he would like the organization to trade Watson before Tuesday’s 4 p.m. ET deadline but is leaving the decision to Caserio.
The Texans and Miami Dolphins have had trade discussions at various points, and Miami has been in the driver’s seat with Watson’s desire to play, most of all, for Miami, according to sources.
But the Dolphins also prefer that Watson’s legal issues be resolved before making a deal. Watson is facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct and 10 criminal complaints, though no charges have been filed and the quarterback has denied the accusations.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday that the league doesn’t yet have enough information about the lawsuits to make a decision on potential discipline and that the information it does have is not enough to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list.
Watson’s uncertain future has impacted the Texans’ trade discussions with other teams, most notably the Dolphins.
The Dolphins are the only team that Watson is known to have waived his no-trade clause for, according to sources. Watson has not done the same for the Carolina Panthers or any other team, sources told ESPN.
But the Panthers have been linked to Watson, 26, since last offseason, and some even have speculated on what a proposed package for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback would look like.
Sources told ESPN that Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and general manager Scott Fitterer each called Christian McCaffrey on Friday night to tell him that, regardless of rumors including the star running back, they never discussed or even considered trading him to Houston for Watson.
Talks between the Texans and Panthers never escalated because Watson did not agree to waive his no-trade clause for Carolina, which therefore was never was in position to evaluate potential trade scenarios the way the organization wanted. The Panthers, with the history that former owner Jerry Richardson had involving harassment, were unwilling to make a trade until they could be entirely comfortable with it.
The Dolphins appear to be the one team that could attempt to put together a trade before Tuesday’s deadline, but there isn’t much hope of a deal being completed as of Sunday morning. There are compensation issues, legal issues and too much uncertainty for those involved in the talks to feel confident that a deal will materialize in the next three days, according to sources.
Dolphins head coach Brian Flores has openly stated that Tua Tagovailoa is Miami’s starting quarterback and, barring injury, is expected to be for the remainder of the season. The Dolphins will play the Texans next Sunday, Nov. 7, in Miami.