The Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson currently aren’t aligned in many ways. They’re on the same page in one key area. They mutually benefit from as many teams as possible being identified as interested in trading for Watson.
Lost and forgotten in the breathless reporting of team after team that is or may be interested in Watson is the fact that he controls his next destination, thanks to a no-trade clause. But now is the time to get as many teams as possible to the table. As more teams are linked to Watson (even if their interest is minimal at best), more teams could enter the discussion. Possibly, the one team that will satisfy Watson’s objectives and Houston’s asking price will, buoyed by reports of so many other teams wanting Watson, enter the fray.
The reports have created a sense that a trade will happen this week. But there’s another factor to consider.
On Tuesday, attorney Tony Buzbee will grill Watson regarding the activities that resulted in the filing of 22 civil lawsuits and multiple criminal complaints. After wisely invoking the Fifth Amendment when interrogated by Buzbee on Friday, given that the grand jury had not yet decided to not charge with any crimes (Buzbee refused to delay the deposition until Monday), Watson will now face the music. The music will be loud. The music will be grating. The music will be frustrating. Eventually, Watson could say something that will paint him in a negative light.
The NFL and its teams are driven in many if not most if not all respects by P.R. Given the very strong probability that portions of Watson’s testimony will make their way to the media, teams should be balancing the urgency to get a deal done against the wisdom of being prudent. Of waiting until more information emerges regarding the things that will, or won’t, emerge as to the things Watson does, or doesn’t, say while testifying.
Whether he violated the legal rights of one or more of the 22 plaintiffs is one thing. His actual behavior is another. For the first time since the initial lawsuit was filed — 52 weeks to the day earlier — Watson will talk about what he did and why he did it.
After all this time, it could make plenty of sense for the truly interested teams (whoever they actually may be) to press pause just a little bit longer, if only to see whether and to what extent Watson holds up under what will be witheringly aggressive questioning.