HOUSTON -- The Houston Texans and the Miami Dolphins are continuing to hold trade discussions regarding Deshaun Watson and are maintaining hope of hammering out a trade for the Pro Bowl quarterback in advance of the NFL trade deadline, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
Nothing is done yet, though, but discussions are heating up as compensation demands and other details are in play. The Texans would like to get three first-round draft picks and two second-round draft picks or players in exchange for Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl passer.
Watson will waive his no-trade clause for the Dolphins and has preferred them throughout the process since requesting a trade in January, according to league sources.
Another wrinkle in the trade talks is the potential involvement of another franchise and another possible trade, not involving Watson, according to league sources.
The 1-5 Texans are in rebuild mode. Other teams that previously expressed interest in Watson included the Denver Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, but they all moved on with their respective quarterbacks.
Watson's legal issues, 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and/or assault and 10 criminal complaints being investigated by the Houston Police Department with no charges filed and no indictments issued, have complicated his trade outlook. However, they haven't halted talks.
Recently, Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair was noncommittal on the prospects of potentially trading Watson.
"We'll just wait and see," McNair said during the Texans' second annual Founder's Day at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Houston. "It's a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we'll see how that works out."
When asked to rate the odds of Watson being traded by a Nov. 2 league deadline, McNair smiled and replied: "I have no idea."
Watson remains on the Texans' 53-man roster, but doesn't play or attend games. He doesn't practice or attend meetings by mutual agreement with the AFC South franchise, complying with what he's asked to do to be paid his $10.54 millions salary.
Watson's discontent with the organization dates back to the controversial DeAndre Hopkins trade and discontent about a lack of communication with the team during the Texans' hiring process of general manager Nick Caserio and coach David Culley.
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Before the legal problems surfaced, Culley was told by Watson that, no offense to him, but he was "intentional" about not playing another down for the Texans.
The Texans are 1-5 and are in a five-game losing streak. And the Nov. 2 trade deadline looms.
"I think they've been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they've made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day," McNair said. "So, we'll see where it goes."
The NFL has not placed Watson on the commissioner-exempt list. Watson reported to training camp to avoid incurring $50,000 daily fines.
The NFL issued a statement prior to training camp.
"The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active," the league said in an email. "We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation. As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.
At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities."
A source said that the NFL hasn't been given access to speak to many of the plaintiffs in the civil cases or third parties who may have relevant information. And the league hasn't been given access to evidence the police have gathered in their investigation.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said during an August press conference that Watson has yet to speak to NFL investigators.
“The answer is no," Hardin said. "Here's the reason: The NFL regularly tries to not reach out to the defendant and his lawyers until the criminal investigation is over. They want to make sure they don’t interfere with the criminal investigation. Whenever the time is appropriate we will fully cooperate.”