The Houston Texans have set a tentative "target" for the almost inevitable, a trade of Deshaun Watson before the NFL's 2022 league year - and the start of free agency - begins March 16.
And a logical landing spot: The Miami Dolphins. Unless ...
Watson remains a member of the Texans organization in large part due to the looming sexual assault and misconduct allegations he faces. As NFL Network notes, "The Houston prosecutor handling 10 criminal complaints filed against Watson is expected to make clear her stance on any potential charges sometime in the next several weeks and turn over the case to a grand jury, sources say. Depositions have also begun for the 22 women who accused Watson of sexual misconduct in civil court; Watson's deposition can take place no sooner than Feb. 22 and a pre-trial conference is set for May.''
Watson, who has denied any wrongdoing, requested a trade last offseason, before the legal entanglements. Ahead of the NFL trade deadline in October, the Texans and Miami Dolphins engaged in what TexansDaily.com sources told us then were "serious trade talks'' that would've given Houston at least three first-round picks.
But in the end, the Dolphins wanted Watson's legal issues to be cleared up.
Jalen Pitre Plus: Who'll Be Texans 'Other' Starting Safety?
Jalen Pitre likely will start Week 1, but who is his running mate at safety?
Which Texans Player is Most 'Underrated'?
One player put up top-10 numbers in 2021, though isn't considered among the best at his position
Happy Birthday, America's Sports: 246 Reasons to Love Houston's Games and Those Who Play Them
On this Fourth of July, let's celebrate every Texan from David Carr to Davis Mills.
Pep in the Step: Does Texans Coach Have Formula for QB Davis Mills?
Pep Hamilton's new role as offensive coordinator has the Texans offense excited for the upcoming season.
'Always Had Hope': Texans Ex Culley Reveals View on QB Deshaun Watson
Davis Culley was never willing to give up on Deshaun Watson playing quarterback for the Houston Texans in 2021
Power Outage: Is Jack Easterby About Done with Houston Texans?
John McClain speculated that this might be Easterby's final season with the Texans.
AFC South Offseason Grades: Texans On Rise?
Which AFC South team made the biggest waves this offseason? Fan Nation publishers analyze:
Where’s Texans Roster Rank in NFL?
While the 2022 Houston Texans roster may not be built for contention this season, it does contain a few bright spots for the future.
And now a new wrinkle: Miami just fired head coach Brian Flores, who was one of the reasons Watson - who has veto power over any trade - was attracted to the Dolphins. Would Dolphins ownership fire Flores fully realizing that might sour Watson on coming to Miami?
That trade can happen, in theory, in the coming months, at which time Miami and other potential suitors, including Carolina and Denver, might get involved in the bidding for the Pro Bowl QB. But Miami - assuming it plans to renew its pursuit of Watson - is going to want to make a Watson-friendly hire.
Is that Jim Harbaugh at Michigan? Eric Bieniemy from the Chiefs?
Houston has made Watson a healthy scratch all year, leaving, in the end, rookie Davis Mills to serve as the 2021 QB of record.
A trade of Watson would remove a dark cloud over the franchise but also would accelerate the rebuild under general manager Nick Caserio ... and under coach David Culley, should he be retained. But suddenly things are a bit cloudy in Miami as well.