The coaching carousel officially has stopped. The quarterback carousel hasn’t officially started.
At least not publicly. Behind the scenes, the wheels surely are in motion. Teams are talking to other teams about possible deals that can be done. Agents are having hypothetical conversations with those who may want to acquire a veteran player. Eventually (and possibly starting with the decision made by Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers), things will start moving.
At some point, the Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson will part ways. The stakes are too high this year. Watson has a fully-guaranteed salary of $35 million. The Texans surely won’t want to pay that amount to someone who isn’t playing, after paying him $10 million to not play in 2021.
But who will trade for Watson while he still is facing legal jeopardy on two fronts? The criminal complaints have yet to be resolved by a grand jury; a decision was expected by the end of January. The 22 civil cases are still pending.
The Dolphins would have traded for Watson in 2021 if the 22 lawsuits had been settled. Ultimately only 18 could have been resolved. The Panthers would have traded for Watson with the criminal and civil matters pending. Watson, however, didn’t want to play for the Panthers.
Currently, there are many factors at play. Which teams would Watson play for? Of those teams, which ones want him? Are they willing to do a deal without full resolution of his legal situation? Can they also work out an acceptable agreement with the Texans? What happens with Watson’s contract?
To get this done, something has to give. Ultimately, it may be Houston. Between the no-trade clause, the $35 million salary, the still-unsettled legal issues, and a full year of inactivity from Watson, Houston’s leverage isn’t getting better — it’s getting worse. And if potentially interested teams in which Watson would be interested begin making other arrangements, it becomes harder not easier for the Texans to get whatever they want.
At a certain point, the Texans may have to simply declare victory and take whatever they can get. Even if it’s a lot less than they could have gotten a year ago.