PHILADELPHIA - Deshaun Watson has bigger issues to deal with than his reported angst with the Houston Texans organization.
If the superstar quarterback successfully navigates both legal and civil allegations regarding his personal behavior, however, the Eagles might be in a position to pounce, according to the Houston Chronicle.
At last count Watson is facing over 20 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault from female massage therapists, the Houston Police Department is investigating at least one of those accusations, and the NFL itself is conducting a parallel investigation to discern whether Watson has violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
The range of outcomes for the talented Watson are broad, everything from the allegations unraveling on the positive end for the three-time Pro Bowl selection, to not being permitted to play until the civil cases are resolved and all the way to criminal charges and conviction on the other end of the spectrum.
The Eagles are one of several teams paying close attention to the evolving developments surrounding the star QB, according to the Chronicle's Aaron Wilson, and one of two teams named, along with the Miami Dolphins.
“Several NFL teams, including the Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins, are monitoring the latest Watson legal developments, which have complicated any efforts to trade for him," Wilson wrote. "The Texans, according to sources, haven’t engaged in trade discussions and have been in more of a listening mode as they concentrate on overhauling their roster.”
The thought around the league was that Carolina was the favorite to acquire Watson before the legal entanglements ramped up. The Panthers shifted gears on Monday, acquiring Sam Darnold from the New York Jets for a trio of draft picks over the next two years.
The Eagles have unofficially pledged the 2021 season to second-year QB Jalen Hurts but Howie Roseman added plenty of insurance in case Hurt fails to progress.
If former starter Carson Wentz plays 75 percent of the snaps for the Indianapolis Colts next season the Eagles will have three first-round picks in 2022, plenty of ammunition to do whatever is necessary for 2022.
The Eagles could simply build around Hurts if the former Alabama and Oklahoma star turns the corner, move up in the 2002 draft to get a QB if need be, or trade for any disgruntled star from Watson to Russell Wilson or even Aaron Rodgers.
For Watson to enter any formal conversations for the Eagles or anyone else, the assault allegations have to be cleared up, however. And even in the wake of such an outcome, the Eagles would also have to be willing to take on a public-relations hit in a charged political environment where activism has become a cottage industry.
On Tuesday, massage therapist Ashley Solis was the first to accuse Watson publicly of sexual misconduct.
Solis said she suffers from "panic attacks, anxiety, and depression" from an incident on March 30 of 2020.
"I'm in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson's actions," said Solis. "... we were all deceived into thinking Deshaun Watson was a good guy."
From a football-only perspective, most teams in the NFL would have an interest in a 25-year-old QB who is a ready-made star. At this stage of an ugly situation, monitoring is all anyone can do.
“I can no longer practice the profession I love the most without my hands shaking during the session,” Solis said. “I got into massage therapy to heal people. To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that.
"... People say that I’m doing this just for money. That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman.”
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s EagleMaven. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.