If Deshaun Watson is traded, NFL will have to decide whether to put him on paid leave

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As if the NFL wasn’t already dealing with a thorny problem that won’t go away regarding the WFT emails (plenty of media outlets are helping the cause by looking the other way, frankly), the league may soon have another pot boiling over on the front burner of the P.R. stove.

The NFL has not yet decided whether to put Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on paid leave because, as previously explained, the NFL doesn’t have to. the Texans already have placed Watson on de facto paid leave. The league has no reason to do anything about Watson if he’s not trying to play. Why create a headline and a debate topic by putting Watson on the Commissioner Exempt list when he’s yet to be charged with a single crime?

If the Texans trade Watson to the Dolphins or Eagles or Panthers or whoever, and if Watson then grabs a helmet and heads to the field, the league has to decide whether to let him play. Take no action, and risk catching flak from those who say the NFL isn’t taking the sexual misconduct allegations against Watson seriously. Act, and risk inviting criticism from those who would attack a decision to ignore the presumption of innocence for someone who hasn’t even been officially accused by a prosecutor of being guilty.

That’s why the league would prefer to have to make no decisions about Deshaun Watson.

For the team that trades for Watson, the potential risk of paid leave much be factored into the transaction. Houston scoffs at the impact of short-term unavailability on the trade value, viewing it as a ten-year transaction not a two-year move. If a team is willing to embrace Watson knowing that there’s a good chance he won’t be on the field until 2022 at the earliest, the deal can be done by November 2.

So why do it at all before November 2? Waiting until the offseason could result in even more teams coming to the table, as other teams admit that the quarterback they currently have under contract isn’t and won’t be the answer. That would potentially drive the price higher.

16 responses to “If Deshaun Watson is traded, NFL will have to decide whether to put him on paid leave

  1. Is there any doubt that the NFL won’t let Watson play until his legal situation is resolved? His rights and reputation don’t matter to the NFL, PR considerations will dominate the league’s decision.

  2. I doubt a bunch of teams are going to be beating the door down for a chance to trade for Watson, assume his contract, and give up all the draft capital Houston wants. Even if he didn’t have the legal issues I don’t think people are willing to meet Houston’s price.

    I’m sure Houston hopes someone trades for him. That would lessen their cap hit to get rid of him. If they were to release him they’d have a cap hit of ~$67M with ~$51M in dead money. If they can trade him those numbers fall to less than $20M. Getting all those draft picks and freeing up all that money would be similar to the Cowboys haul when they traded for Herschel Walker.

  3. The guy has MULTIPLE criminal complaints lodged against him. Granted it is Texas, but that has to count for SOMETHING. True on not, those complaints HAVE to be sorted before any trade OR resolution to his availability to play for ANY team.

    Hard to see anything happening in the foreseeable future.

  4. A trade to Miami would be awesome for the Texans because they would be trading to a horrendously bad team that may get a pick in the top five. Without draft capital for a few years Houston will get great picks for a few years to help the rebuild. All that on top of ditching a complete headache.

  5. I am surprised that there is no written policy for how to handle those who are accused of a crime and have police reports filed against them; it would seem the fair way would be to put him on paid leave pending the next step – escalation or exoneration. This would apply to all legal matters. Once he has no legal action pending, he’d be free to play. Should he have charges filed against him, he would go on unpaid leave pending the next step – settlement or trial. While each situation is unique, the legal steps are the same. A DUI would be handled the same way.

  6. Watson has no “rights” to a presumption of innocence or anything with respect to the NFL. The NFL is not the government. Some people need to realize when rights apply and when they do not.

    The NFL also has no obligation to protect Watson’s reputation. Besides, Watson has done a good job of damaging his reputation on his own.

  7. If teams knew he wasn’t effectively already suspended his trade value would rise and a trade would be more likely. That would benefit both Watson personally and the Texans. Even starting him for one game and pulling him at halftime would answer that question and let other teams see he’s still in shape. Yet that hasn’t happened. In fact, the Texans haven’t even HINTED he might play. That clearly demonstrates they’re afraid he’s already unofficially suspended right now.

  8. This is based upon intentionally naive suggestion that collusion doesn’t exist in the NFL. When, in fact, collusion is at the very foundation of the league’s continued success.

  9. Paid Leave ? Watson maybe in jail. Hopefully the league and justice system won’t let him buy his way out.

  10. If the league has not told the two teams talking trade if Watson will be suspended then they are not doing there job.

  11. Trading three number one picks for Deshaun Watson is three too many. I would offer some frontline players Devante (I have a hang nail I’ve got to go on the inactive list) Parker, Byron Jones, Myles Gaskins, Tua, and a first round pick subject to change pending Watson’s legal situation. This has been expressed on many forums not just this one.

  12. ************************** continued ********************************
    Plus I thought the Dolphins threw away the “Dave Wanstead Guide to Player Personnel Moves.” Mr. Ross needs to trust his “football people”.

  13. I don’t like Deshaun Watson but a world where my career ends because of accusations yet to be proven bothers me more! I suppose “paid leave” makes it okay but still…

  14. sparky151 says:

    October 21, 2021 at 1:04 pm

    Is there any doubt that the NFL won’t let Watson play until his legal situation is resolved? His rights and reputation don’t matter to the NFL, PR considerations will dominate the league’s decision.
    Seems your confused on what “rights” are. When joining the NFL and the NFLpa he agreed to these rules, no rights are being violated🤦‍♂️

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