The chatter is building indeed.
In the aftermath of our report that talk is mounting in league circles that the Texans could be trading quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Panthers or the Dolphins, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dolphins have emerged as the frontrunner.
Citing an unnamed team that dropped out of trade talks, Robinson reports that the Texans still want three first-round picks and two second-round selections for Watson.
Robinson adds that teams are seeking protection against the possibility that Watson will miss time due to the 22 civil lawsuits pending against him or the 10 criminal complaints. Previously, the thinking was that no team would give the Texans what they want until, at a minimum, the criminal allegations are resolved favorably to Watson. Conditional picks based on available make the most sense.
Yes, the off-field accusations are serious and should be treated that way. But football always moves on. Watson is one of the best players in the sport, and he will play again. The only questions at this point are when and for whom. With, per Robinson, the Panthers, Eagles, and Broncos out, the Dolphins could be in.
Houston’s only leverage at this point, if a single team is negotiating for Watson, would be to keep him on the roster until March, when more teams would surely be at the table — especially if there’s greater certainty as to his legal entanglement. They’d surely get a better package in six and a half months than they’ll get now. However, it will cost them $10.54 million to have Watson on the roster this season.