The Deshaun Watson situation is messy, horrible, practically unprecedented and has no logical end in sight
We're two weeks from the regular season starting and as was the case in spring, the Watson situation is up in the air. The NFL hasn't put him on the commissioner's exempt list or even talked to him about the multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. Trade talks, specifically with the Miami Dolphins, are heating up but there has been no deal.
Here's the issue for the Houston Texans: Some decision will have to be made with Watson. And it seems like their only realistic option, if no trade is made in 13 days, might be paying him more than $10 million to sit out while they plan to trade him in a few months.
It's safe to say that's never happened before.
Deshaun Watson's situation still unresolved
It's still possible a trade will be made with someone, but time is running out before the season starts. The Texans seem hesitant on what to do, probably because there's no good answer.
David Culley on if Deshaun Watson will take up a roster spot: “we’re day to day with that”
— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) August 30, 2021
The most realistic scenario outside of a trade is one of the strangest. Aaron Wilson of Sportstalk 790 in Houston, who covered the team for the Houston Chronicle before he was reportedly fired for comments on the Watson case, reported that the Texans are "prepared to have Deshaun Watson on the 53-man roster and inactive every week."
Removing the off-field allegations for a moment, Watson is one of the five or so best quarterbacks in the NFL. He's not suspended or technically unable to play. The Texans, who are projected to be the worst team in the NFL, are reportedly planning to pay $10.54 million to Watson and voluntarily put him on the inactive list every week.
Players have held out for full seasons before, most recently Le'Veon Bell. Players have been suspended or told to stay home for short periods. But a team taking its best player, one of the best in the entire league, and paying eight figures for him to not play an entire season while anticipating a trade in the future? Try finding a comp for that.
It would be weird, but the Texans don't have a lot of great options.
Could Watson sit all season?
Watson requested a trade early in the offseason. Then there were many allegations and 22 women who filed civil lawsuits against the quarterback. The FBI talked to Watson after his lawyers said he was a target of an extortion attempt from one of the accusers. The NFL's handling of the case has been criticized. The league hasn't spoken to Watson during a criminal investigation.
It has all led to this: There are less two weeks before Houston starts its season against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the team needs to do something, even if it's making one of the best players in the NFL inactive each week.
Once the decision was made to start training camp that Watson wouldn't practice, the chances of him playing at all this season for the Texans became remote. It's hard to believe the Texans would do a 180 and ask a player, who has not normally practiced with the team this summer and has a standing trade request on top of being involved in sexual misconduct allegations, to get ready to start Week 1. They could trade Watson, but the investigations complicate trade talks. Teams won't give up full value in a trade not knowing if he'll be able to play all season.
It's a messy situation and hanging over the Texans franchise and the NFL itself. The Texans can pay Watson a fortune to not play every week, though that won't make the story go away.