Editor’s note: This story contains alleged accounts of sexual assault. If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or at https://www.rainn.org
Deshaun Watson’s playing future remains unknown as he faces extensive legal trouble—22 active civil lawsuits and reportedly 10 criminal complaints. Watson did not play for the Texans in 2021 and was not dealt to another team ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline, despite significant rumors about interest from teams such as the Dolphins and Eagles.
According to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler and Dan Graziano, Watson has been evaluating “potential fits” for new teams in 2022. With Miami, reportedly his preferred destination, publicly backing Tua Tagovailoa after hiring 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel as head coach, two teams have popped up on Watson’s “radar”: the Buccaneers and Vikings.
Tampa Bay is ready to “exhaust all options“ in order to keep its championship window open after the retirement of Tom Brady. The team is in win-now mode, and if he’s able to play, Watson could be an option.
Kirk Cousins has been a solid-if-unspectacular quarterback for the Vikings and has a cap hit of $45 million this upcoming season. Watson would be an upgrade for the franchise, which hired Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell after firing coach Mike Zimmer after the season.
Any team interested in Watson will have to acquire him from the Texans via trade. He has four years left on his deal with the team after signing a four-year, $156 million extension with the team in September 2020. His deal includes a no-trade clause.
Watson will likely need to be cleared legally first. The Houston Police Department has launched an investigation on the quarterback, and depositions in the civil lawsuits against him have begun, though he can’t be deposed until Feb. 22.
From March 16 until April 14, 23 lawsuits were filed against the Texans’ quarterback describing sexual harassment and sexual assault, spanning from March 2020 until March ’21.
One lawsuit was dropped by a plaintiff “for now,” according to court documents, “in light of privacy and security concerns.”
These civil lawsuits currently on the Harris County District Clerk’s website include allegations that range from Watson refusing to cover his genitals to forcing women to put his penis in their mouth.
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