Two weeks ago, many throughout the league believed that the Texans would imminently trade quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Dolphins. That feeling made its way to the league office, given that (per a source with knowledge of the situation) the Dolphins were communicating with 345 Park Avenue to get more information about Watson’s status.
The Dolphins wanted to know whether Watson would be placed on paid leave pending the resolution of his legal proceedings and/or whether and to what extent he’ll eventually be suspended without pay if he’s not prosecuted and if/when the 22 civil lawsuits pending against him are settled. However, the league didn’t tip its hand — because the league never does on matters of this nature.
As recently explained, the league has not even begun to make a decision on whether to place Watson on paid leave because the league doesn’t have to make that decision if the Texans will be paying him to not play, pending a trade. If/when he’s traded and prepares to play, the league would then decide whether to place him on the Commissioner Exempt list.
Per a source with knowledge of the conversations, that’s not what caused the Dolphins to back off. It was the asking price, one that the Texans refuse to soften despite the questions swirling around Watson. Although it’s been widely reported that the Texans want three first-round picks and two second-round picks, someone in the know mentioned that the Texans wanted four ones and two twos from the Dolphins. (Although by rule teams can only trade picks three drafts into the future, the Dolphins have two first-round picks in 2023, giving them four in the next three drafts.)
So, yes, a trade was moving toward happening. Ultimately, the Texans refused to reduce their demands to reflect the uncertainty that certainly hovers over Watson — especially with the possibility that he’ll be placed on paid leave if he’s traded and prepares to start playing.
Thus, as explained the other night during the Cowboys-Bucs pregame, the next question becomes whether a grand jury indicts Watson. Per a source with knowledge of the dynamics, the grand jury could (not will, but could) make a decision by late October or early November. With the trade deadline arriving on November 2, that could create a sliver of a chance for the Texan to trade Watson in 2021, if he’s not indicted.