Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair was noncommittal on the prospects of potentially trading
embattled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson by the NFL trade deadline.
Watson has issued a standing trade request and has a powerful no-trade clause in his $156 million contract. His trade outlook is severely complicated because he's facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault and 10 criminal complaints being investigated by the Houston Police Department. No charges have been filed.
No trade is imminent or developing at this time as general manager Nick Caserio continues to interact and field inquiries from other NFL teams, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly. The Miami Dolphins remain at the top of Watson's list among teams that he would potentially waive his no-trade clause for, according to sources.
"We'll just wait and see," McNair said Wednesday during the Texans' second annual Founder's Day at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Houston. "It's a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we'll see how that works out."
When asked to rate the odds of Watson being traded by aNov. 2league deadline, McNair smiled and replied: "I have no idea."
Watson remains on the Texans' 53-man roster, but doesn't play or attend games. He doesn't practice or attend meetings by mutual agreement with the AFC South franchise, complying with what he's asked to do to be paid his $10.54 millions salary.
Watson's discontent with the organization dates back to the controversial DeAndre Hopkins trade and discontent about a lack of communication with the team during the Texans' hiring process of general manager Nick Caserio and coach David Culley.
Before the legal problems surfaced, Culley was told by Watson that, no offense to him, but he was "intentional" about not playing another down for the Texans.
The Texans are 1-3 and are in a three-game losing streak since starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor strained his hamstring against the Cleveland Browns. Rookie quarterback Davis Mills is 0-2 as a starter and threw four interceptions in a loss to the Buffalo Bills.
"I think they've been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they've made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day," McNair said. "So, we'll see where it goes."
The NFL has not placed Watson on the commissioner-exempt list. Watson reported to training camp to avoid incurring $50,000 daily fines.
The NFL issued a statement prior to training camp.
"The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active," the league said in an email. "We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation. As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.
At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities."
A source said that the NFL hasn't been given access to speak to many of the plaintiffs in the civil cases or third parties who may have relevant information. And the league hasn't been given access to evidence the police have gathered in their investigation.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin,saidduring an August press conference that Watson has yet to speak to NFL investigators.
“The answer is no," Hardin said. "Here's the reason: The NFL regularly tries to not reach out to the defendant and his lawyers until the criminal investigation is over. They want to make sure they don’t interfere with the criminal investigation. Whenever the time is appropriate we will fully cooperate.”
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.