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Sport What we know: Where things stand with Texans QB Deshaun Watson as NFL trade deadline looms

22:45  25 october  2021
22:45  25 october  2021 Source:   usatoday.com

Deshaun Watson not interested in playing for Eagles?

  Deshaun Watson not interested in playing for Eagles? The Houston Texans may be inching closing to trading DeShaun Watson ahead of the Nov. 2 deadline, but there's apparently one interested team that Watson isn't interested in playing for.According to Texans reporter Aaron Wilson, the Philadelphia Eagles were aggressive in pursuing Watson at one point. Eagles general manager Howie Roseman even went through the trouble of contacting Watson’s legal team and sending an investigator to Houston. The issue is Watson has a no-trade clause, and he reportedly does not want to play for Philly.

The NFL trade deadline is a little more than a week away, and the most pressing question is about the future of disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.

Watson demanded a trade in January. What complicates his future in the NFL, however, are the 22 civil lawsuits against him that stem from sexual misconduct or sexual assault allegations from a total of 23 women.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson © Mike Dinovo, USA TODAY Sports Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

The trading deadline is 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 2.

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Here's what we know about the situation surrounding Watson.

What is the status of civil lawsuits against Watson?

Twenty-three women have accused Watson of sexual misconduct or assault and 22 of them have filed civil lawsuits against him. According to the suits, the alleged incidents occurred at a variety of locations in four different states. Most of the women, who filed the lawsuits using the pseudonym "Jane Doe," are described as licensed massage therapists, estheticians or business owners.

Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, in April called the allegations "meritless," though he did acknowledge that there were "sometimes consensual encounters" during Watson's massage sessions. When later asked by a reporter to clarify, Hardin said "we've never run from it" and the question "has always been about consent."

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The Houston Police Department also announced in April that it would be investigating a complaint against Watson after a report was filed. The New York Times later reported in September, citing documents obtained, that Houston Police has spoken to at least 10 women about the allegations against Watson.

OPINION: How many women does it take, NFL, before you take action against Deshaun Watson?

What about the NFL's investigation?

The NFL indicated it would be investigating Watson's case to determine whether there was a violation of the league's personal conduct policy.

In August, Hardin said the NFL had not yet contacted Watson. It is unclear whether that has remained the case in the months since, but Hardin said Watson would cooperate.

The NFL also confirmed in August it would be reaching out to Watson eventually as part of the investigation.

What has Watson said about the complaints?

Aside from a social media post March 16, Watson has not publicly commented on the suits filed against him. But in that March statement he posted on Twitter, he denied the allegations and said he looked forward to clearing his name.

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Which teams have been linked as possible destinations?

The team mentioned most is the Miami Dolphins, who fell to 1-6 Sunday after a 30-28 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. While the Dolphins have a young passer in second-year pro Tua Tagovailoa, multiple reports indicated team owner Stephen Ross wanted to bring in a star-caliber player at the position.

On Monday, however, NBC Sports reported that Ross was not pushing Miami's front office to make a trade for Watson at the moment.

Another possible destination emerged Sunday, after the Carolina Panthers suffered an embarrassing 25-3 loss against the previously one-win New York Giants. Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, whom the team traded for this offseason, struggled yet again and was benched late in the game.

The Athletic reported after the game that the Panthers are expected to be involved in trade talks for Watson, though head coach Matt Rhule indicated Darnold would remain the team's starter for the time being.

"His sense of urgency this week, I expect to be heightened," Rhule said after the game.

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One final point: Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he ultimately will dictate which team he wants to play for and will have to approve any potential deal.

What are the Texans looking for in a trade?

On Sunday, Fox Sports reported that Houston was looking for at least three first-round picks, as well as two additional picks. In a vacuum, that price makes sense for a player of Watson's caliber. A three-time Pro Bowl player who is 26 years old, Watson has all the physical gifts to do well.

Yet the implications of the pending civil and criminal cases against Watson complicate this situation. At the moment, there is no guarantee he would even be available to play in the future, as the league could consider suspensions or discipline against him, pending the outcome of those cases. Teams considering parting with such a massive amount of draft capital have to weigh the potential risks.

Will Watson land on commissioner's exempt list?

Under the NFL's personal conduct policy, the league stipulates that a player can be placed on it "when a player is formally charged with a crime of violence, meaning that he is accused of having used physical force or a weapon to injure or threaten another person, of having engaged in a sexual assault by force or a sexual assault of a person who was incapable of giving consent ..." The policy goes on to state that those "formal charges may be in the form of an indictment by a grand jury, the filing of charges by a prosecutor, or an arraignment in a criminal court."

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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell also has the authority to place a player on the list "when an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that a player may have violated this Policy by committing any of the conduct identified above, he may act where the circumstances and evidence warrant doing so."

In the past, the commissioner's exempt list has been used in similar circumstances when a player has been facing criminal or off-field issues that could result in disciplinary action. Putting the player on the list would allow him to remain on his team, though he would not count against the active roster used for game days. In essence, it is paid administrative leave. If placed on the list, the player will not be allowed to practice or participate in games until removed.

The NFL has not placed Watson on the commissioner's exempt list because the Texans made it clear they would not consider playing him this season after Watson demanded a trade in January. Watson had been present during the team's training camp, but Houston kept him mostly away from participation in practices. In each game this season, the Texans kept Watson on the inactive list.

If he is traded, however, the team that acquires him would almost certainly want him to play, so the league would need to make a determination on his status. On Sunday, NFL Network reported the expectation is that Watson's case doesn't fall under the language used for the commissioner's exempt list and he would not be placed on it if he were dealt before the deadline.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: What we know: Where things stand with Texans QB Deshaun Watson as NFL trade deadline looms

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