By this point, most of Broncos Country has given up on Denver's rumored interest in acquiring disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who attempted to strongarm a trade this offseason before 22 sexual misconduct allegations were levied against the NFL's reigning passing champ.
For the remaining stragglers: consider your bubble burst.
NFL insider John Clayton of 104.3 The Fan recently brought to light a plausible scenario in which Watson does not see a football field again until 2023. Clayton echoed Fox Sports Radio's Ben Maller, who raised the argument the 25-year-old is at the mercy of the justice system — with a merciless but legitimate outcome on the table.
"As has been reported, Watson won’t be deposed until Feb. 22, 2022. The court systems in Houston are so slow that the next step won’t happen until right after the Super Bowl," Clayton wrote. "Maller projects that trials won’t start until May of 2022. Even though Watson could try to look to settle the cases, his attorney says that won’t happen. The cases could go through June and July of next year.
"Maller points out the NFL usually doesn’t go back and utilize “time served” when it comes to suspensions. So if Watson is found guilty next year after the start of camp, the league could suspend him into the 2023 season.
"Here is the important point: Watson could go on the commissioner’s exempt list this season, but he will receive his full salary. He’s scheduled to make $10.540 million this year and he gets paid for each game he’s on the exempt list. The Texans could fine him for missing training camp, but they can’t void the guarantees until his contract until he gets a ruling and if that doesn’t happen until next July, he will effectively be on paid leave."
Clayton added it's "unlikely" the Broncos "or any other team" makes a play for Watson in the event he lands on the Commissioner's Exempt list, and that "very little" will crystallize in the immediate future.
The Broncos expressed rudimentary interest in Watson prior to the allegations surfacing. The feeling, purportedly, is mutual. Veteran Broncos safety and ex-Texans teammate Kareem Jackson, privately recruiting Watson amid the trade speculation, claimed earlier this month the three-time Pro Bowl QB wants to "be in Denver."
"I got a great relationship with Deshaun. I've been talking to him for the last couple of weeks," Jackson said on June 9. "All he's been telling me is, 'Look, Jack, just tell them, that's where I want to be. I want to be in Denver,'" he relayed Wednesday. "During the time I was going through my little free agency thing, I ended up signing back here. Before I signed, he called and he was like, 'Man, are you gonna sign? Let me know what you're going to do.' Then I signed back and he was like, 'Listen, man, tell them I want to be in Denver.'"
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