Will lawsuits impact Deshaun Watson’s trade market?

NFL: DEC 13 Texans at Bears
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When only one lawsuit was filed against Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, the G.M. of a team not in the hunt for the player privately asked PFT whether a franchise can trade for Watson in the immediate aftermath of the claim. The disclosure by lawyer Tony Buzbee that three more women will be filing assault claims against Watson complicates that question, considerably.

If there were only one claim, a team could mobilize its internal resources to fully investigate the situation and to determine that Watson faces no realistic league discipline, and that the P.R. impact would not outweigh the value of adding the player. With four claims, even if Watson ultimately prevails on each one, the sheer volume complicates a potential trade, considerably.

How can a team justify sending significant assets to Houston without knowing how these claims will turn out? Although Watson is entitled to all protections and presumptions that apply within the confines of the legal system, the sheer number of claims will potentially cause one or more teams to not pursue a trade.

Alternatively, the compensation for a Watson trade could drop. And the local blowback could, in theory, force the Texans to take whatever they can get.

None of this will likely change Watson’s desire to move on. It could impact both the inclination of another team to trade for him and/or the price tag the Texans attach to a trade.

If Watson did what he’s accused of doing, there should be consequences. Even if he’s falsely accused in each instance, there’s value in resolving these matters quickly in order to remove what quickly has become a practical impediment to Watson’s desire for a fresh start.