Let the Deshaun Watson Sweepstakes Begin as Controversial Star QB Is Cleared of Criminal Charges in Texas

Watson still has 22 civil lawsuits pending, but a Harris County grand jury returned no criminal charges

Deshaun Watson of the Texans participates in warmups prior to a game against the Titans in 2021
Deshaun Watson of the Texans participates in warmups prior to a game against the Titans in 2021..
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

On Friday afternoon in Texas, a Harris County grand jury failed to indict Deshaun Watson and returned no criminal charges after hearing sexual assault accusations made against the 26-year-old quarterback by multiple female massage therapists.

Though Watson is still facing 22 civil lawsuits and the grand jury finding a lack of evidence to charge Watson does not mean he is innocent of the allegations made against him, this is a big legal victory for him and a major step toward the Houston Texans trading him.

This is why Deshaun Watson, from the beginning, welcomed a police investigation: He felt he knew that the truth would come out,” ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter wrote in a poorly worded tweet. “Trade market for Deshaun Watson now is expected to ramp up, quickly. Houston will be opening to moving him and multiple teams are expected to be interested, per league sources.”

Albert Breer, who was among the first to report the news, confirmed that the market for Watson could heat up fast. “A number of teams have had their security people doing due diligence on Deshaun Watson’s case over the last year, so as to be ready in the case that the grand jury returned this verdict,” he wrote on Twitter.

Though perhaps some teams will be scared off by the civil lawsuits hanging over Watson’s head and the fact that the NFL could still suspend him even if no criminal charges against him are ever filed, it seems likely at least one team will roll the dice and swing a deal for a quarterback who led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards and an average of 8.9 yards per pass during the 2020 season before sitting out all of last season after requesting a trade out of Houston.

One of the worst teams in the NFL without Watson on the field last season, the Texans are now in a much better position to accommodate his request and recoup a reasonable return for one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

Though not as accomplished as Russell Wilson, Watson is seven years younger than the longtime Seahawk and would likely command a package of top picks and established players in a trade, similar to what Denver gave up to acquire Wilson from Seattle earlier this week. Could Seattle simply turn around and flip some of those picks to the Texans and make Watson a Seahawk? That certainly seems like a possibility. But there should also be no shortage of suitors for Watson, including the Steelers, Panthers and Buccaneers. The latter would be the best story and create the most juice as it would open the door for Tom Brady to return to the NFL — just not as a Buc.

The NFL’s quarterback carousel spins on.

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