The Seattle Seahawks are interested in Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and are expected to explore trade scenarios for the three-time Pro Bowl passer, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
The Carolina Panthers are also interested in Watson, according to sources.
The Panthers have conducted significant due diligence on his unresolved legal situation, including 10 criminal complaints and no charges filed and 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct. Watson gives his first deposition on Friday at the office of his attorney, Rusty Hardin. The district attorney presents her case to the grand jury on Friday in Houston.
The Washington Commanders have also had interest in Watson this offseason. The organization was researching his legal situation and reviewing his games, according to sources.
The Seahawks have the draft capital to trade for Watson. That includes one first-round draft pick, two second-round draft picks, and some good players. They have safety Jamal Adams and wide receivers DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett.
Watson has a no-trade clause in his four-year, $156 million contract. He would have to sign off on any prospective trade under the terms of his deal.
A question surrounding the Seahawks remains — are they in rebuilding mode, or are they poised to reboot and contend with a new quarterback like Watson?
From the Seahawks’ standpoint, they would acquire a dynamic, mobile quarterback who’s already a proven commodity. Watson led the NFL in passing yards two seasons ago before he requested a trade from the Texans and experienced legal issues.
Meanwhile, Lovie Smith and the Texans have learned to have patience. They understand that an unresolved legal situation is out of their control.
Smith, 63, said he remains hopeful that closure will ultimately be realized for Watson and the AFC South franchise. When that might happen is totally unclear.
“I have no idea,” Smith said. “And the good part about it is time kind of takes care of everything. I just know Deshaun is an excellent football player. Excellent football players need to be playing somewhere in the NFL. Hopefully, that will happen, and if it’s not with us, it’s somewhere else. And I’m sure as I see in this situation, both of us eventually are going to benefit from the situation, and I just can’t wait for that to speed up a little bit.
“How important is that? I’m agreeing with what you said. Yes, we would like a prompt resolution to it, but I’m also a patient man, too, and time normally takes care of everything. We understand this is Year 2, and I know Deshaun wants to play, and it will come to a head. I have faith in that. We just have to give it a little time, and hopefully, everybody will be happy with it. I’m sure that will be the case.”
No trade is imminent or developing at this time for Watson. He was nearly traded at the NFL deadline last season to the Miami Dolphins with the deal scuttled because Dolphins owner Stephen Ross insisted that the quarterback settle his lawsuits. Watson was only able to reach preliminary agreements to settle with 18 of the 22 plaintiffs, per league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
"The door is shut on Deshaun,” Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said.
The New York Giants aren’t interested, too, per owner John Mara. He cited a tight salary cap situation and Watson’s unresolved legal situation.
Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman previously conducted significant due diligence on Watson before last season. Philly even sent an investigator to Houston to look into the legal situation and contact Rusty Hardin, Watson’s attorney, per sources.
However, Watson has never been inclined to waive his no-trade clause for the Eagles. Moreover, Philadelphia has publicly committed to Jalen Hurts as their quarterback.
The Broncos had interest in Watson for over a year, per sources. Yet, they hesitated to pursue him given the potential reputation fallout with the accusations he’s facing and the team being for sale. They pivoted to Wilson when it became clear that Aaron Rodgers would remain with the Green Bay Packers.
While the legal situation continues to unfold, the Texans and NFL teams interested in trading for the former Clemson star are monitoring the situation and awaiting clarity.
"I would say that situation, we’ve talked about this with our group, we’re day to day in terms of handling that,” Caserio said. “Once the information becomes more relevant or prevalent, then we’ll handle it accordingly. My philosophy from the beginning has always been to do the right thing by the Houston Texans organization, and we’re going to continue to do that here moving forward.”
The Texans have been seeking at least three first-round draft picks and two second-round draft picks in exchange for Watson. Could that price drop potentially if his legal situation doesn’t improve? That’s obvious.
Watson remained on the Texans’ roster last season and was paid his $10.54 million salary. He was not placed on the commissioner’s exempt list but played in no games.
Watson only practiced during a portion of training camp before he and Caserio reached an agreement that he would report to the Texans’ training facility for individual workouts with the strength and conditioning staff but not participate in practices and meetings.