The NFL has the ability to place quarterback Deshaun Watson on paid leave given his current legal issues, if the NFL decides to do so. The NFL has yet to decide whether it will or won’t place Watson on paid leave, if he’s traded.
That’s the same attitude the NFL had weeks ago, when the Dolphins first started asking the league office questions about Watson’s status, if/when he’s traded. The Texans have placed Watson on paid leave, which keeps the league from having to make a decision. It won’t make a decision until it has to make a decision.
We don’t know what the decision will be. The NFL doesn’t know what the decision will be. What we know is that the NFL will make a decision when a decision needs to be made.
Watson faces 22 civil complaints alleging sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. He also faces 10 criminal complaints, two of which were filed by individuals who have not yet sued him. But he has not yet been charged with any crime.
That can change, obviously. A grand jury has yet to decide whether to indict Watson. An outcome there could still be weeks away. The civil cases, absent a settlement, will linger of months.
The league has a delicate task when assessing whether Watson will be allowed to play. If he plays, the league will be accused of not taking the sexual misconduct allegations seriously. If he’s placed on paid leave, the league will be accused of shutting down a player who hasn’t been formally charged with any type of crime.
Again, circumstances can — and eventually will — change. Those changes can affect whether and to what extent the league feels compelled to act or decides to let Watson continue his career after he’s traded.
If he’s traded.
When he’s traded.