Breaking news on Deshaun Watson’s criminal investigation and why the trade chatter is silent

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Three months have been largely quiet since Houston police announced they were investigating Deshaun Watson after a series of massage therapists accused the star Houston Texans quarterback of sexual misconduct.

A Houston PD spokesperson told Pro Football Network on Monday that their investigation into Watson is ongoing. the NFL conducts its own investigation; ESPN recently reported that Watson is willing to cooperate with the league’s efforts.

What are the Texans doing at QB during the Deshaun Watson investigation?

Even if Watson is never charged, the NFL could issue its own punishment, including a suspension. Another option is for the league to place him on paid leave while the criminal investigation unfolds.

So while Watson remains on the Texans’ active roster, that is subject to (and likely will be) changed.

He skipped OTAs and minicamp, and it’s uncertain whether Watson will report when the Texans’ training camp begins later this month. This reflects the delicate and uncertain period of his personal life and career.

Before more than 20 women filed a lawsuit accusing Watson of inappropriate behavior — some speaking to police and others telling their stories to the NFL — Watson tried to force a trade out of Houston.

The Texans balked at his request at the time, but then built their roster in a way that suggests they’re open to moving Watson. They signed Tyrod Taylor and drafted Davis Mills out of Stanford. Jeff Driskel is also part of the team.

How does Watson’s investigation affect potential trade talks?

But even if the Texans decide to move on and find a business partner willing to meet their demands, it’s hard to see how a trade will pan out while its criminal and civil issues remain in limbo.

Additionally, some believe the NFL would block any deals involving Watson until this matter is resolved. The quickest way for that to happen, of course, would be for Watson to agree to pay off his accusers with a settlement that many believe would include a nondisclosure agreement.

Without subpoena power, NFL investigations rely heavily on the cooperation of victims. It is not difficult to imagine that this cooperation ends in a paid agreement.

For the purposes of this exercise, let’s assume that before the start of the season, a settlement is reached and Houston law enforcement announces that they are not charging Watson.

Many around football then expect the Texans to buy Watson and find that his market is, though diminished, still robust.

Which teams would still be in the Watson draw?

The Houston Chronicle reported in March — when this scandal was near its peak — that the Eagles, Panthers, Jets, Dolphins, 49ers and Broncos were still expressing some interest in acquiring Watson. (They might have been bargain-hunting, as Watson’s price is now lower than it would have been before the trial.)

Of those six teams, four have since added potential starting quarterbacks. The Panthers traded for Sam Darnold; the Jets and Niners drafted Zach Wilson and Trey Lance respectively; and the Broncos signed Teddy Bridgewater.

So that would probably, but not necessarily, eliminate some of those teams from the race. But it makes sense that the Eagles, Dolphins and Broncos remain interested in Watson.

Of those three, the Eagles have by far the most to offer the Texans. Philadelphia will have three first-round draft picks in 2022 if Carson Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ snaps or 70% and Indianapolis makes the playoffs. The Dolphins, meanwhile, could offer Tua Tagovailoa, Xavier Howard (who wants a raise) and the 49ers’ first-round pick, which they acquired in a series of pre-draft trades.

Any team dealing for Watson would absorb his $10.5 million cap. The Eagles and Dolphins would need to clear some space to do that. But minor bookkeeping would be a minor inconvenience to landing a player widely considered one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.

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