On Friday afternoon, a grand jury declined to indict Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on criminal charges related to multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment. There were 10 criminal complaints in total, but only nine were presented to the grand jury and ultimately they decided there was not enough evidence to proceed with charges.
According to the New York Times, only one of the women was called in front of the grand jury even though several of them were on site and ready to testify. Watson invoked the Fifth Amendment and did not answer questions pertaining to the case at his civil lawsuit depositions on Friday, but with the criminal case completed his lawyer says he intends not to invoke again for Tuesday’s deposition.
Watson (for obvious reasons) did not play in the 2021 season but was never placed on the commissioner’s exempt list, meaning the Texans effectively paid him not to play while his legal situation unfolded. He is still subject to the 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by massage therapists, and the NFL has its own ongoing investigation that could still see him suspended if the league deems he violated the personal conduct policy.
For an in-depth explainer on the allegations Watson is facing, check out this article by Sports Illustrated. [CW: Contains graphic details of sexual assault]
Now that Watson won’t face charges, it paves the way for interested teams to trade for him. Watson himself requested to be traded from Houston two months prior to the first accusation and civil lawsuit. Among the reported potential suitors are the Seattle Seahawks, who just traded Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos. NFL insider Aaron Wilson says Seattle and the Carolina Panthers are expected to make the biggest push to acquire Watson.
Ultimately, sources predict Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks to be the top contenders for Deshaun Watson in prospective trade. Importance of no-trade clause in his $156 million contract can't be overstated enough. Fluid situation on destination of three-time Pro Bowl passer— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 12, 2022
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah also stirred up the Watson to Seahawks rumors based off conversations with people around the league. Locally, Gregg Bell believes the Seahawks will explore landing Watson as their new quarterback. ESPN’s Kimberley A. Martin listed as the Seahawks as one of the teams closely monitoring the Watson case.
From a football standpoint, the 26-year-old three-time Pro Bowl selection has the aforementioned no-trade clause and a sizable cap hit for the next four seasons.
Deshaun Watson’s contract would be as such for a team acquiring him in a trade:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 11, 2022
2022: $35M salary, $35M cap hit
2023: $20M salary, $17M roster bonus, $37M cap hit
2024: $32M salary, $32M cap hit
2025: $32M salary, $32M cap hit
As things stand, the Seahawks’ quarterback depth chart consists of Drew Lock and Jacob Eason — Geno Smith is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent. Given the severity of the allegations, any team who trades for Watson will undoubtedly find themselves facing plenty of backlash and controversy... perhaps no team more heavily than the Seahawks.