If the lawyers on both sides of the Deshaun Watson litigation have indeed decided to trade public squabbles for private negotiations, and if they can work out a settlement of the 22 civil claims pending against the Texans quarterback before or during the draft, a trade could happen. So who would trade for him?
John McClain of the Houston Chronicle recently identified eight teams that were interested in Watson before the lawsuits were filed: the Jets, Dolphins, Panthers, Broncos, 49ers, Patriots, Bears, and Washington.
At this point, the Jets and 49ers likely wouldn’t be interested, given their draft plans. The rest likely would be. Another team that wasn’t listed by McClain could be waiting for the right time to make a move — the Eagles.
Other teams could decide to get in on the bidding if/when the Texans are able to try to trade Watson’s contract. Every team that makes a move will need to assume that a suspension will happen, even if all 22 cases are settled.
If enough teams are interested, the Texans could end up getting nearly as much as they would have before the off-field problems arose. The real question becomes factoring the length of a potential suspension into the trade value. If the Texans can spark a bidding war for Watson’s contract, it may not matter.