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NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Comments on Texans' Deshaun Watson Trade Issue

It's the NFL version of Damocles’ sword. And it's one of three reasons the Deshaun Watson trade hasn't been as "imminent'' as Houston Texans fans have been led to believe. Are things changing?

Quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Houston Texans and the Miami Dolphins (oh, and now the Carolina Panthers) are all in agreement on one thing - and maybe one thing only: They want to make a Deshaun deal before the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline.

But amid all of the breathless suggestions that a trade was/is "imminent,'' there are three obstacles that actually make it something less than that. ... with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday commenting ... but frankly clearing up nothing. To wit:

OBSTACLE 1: We believe the Dolphins have tried to gather intel from the NFL office, all the way up to commissioner Roger Goodell, regarding whether Watson, due to his current legal entanglements, would actually be able to play right away if he’s traded.

And we believe the NFL has not given Miami a firm "yes.''

It's odd, and unfair to all parties, really, that Watson could have in theory played last Sunday for the Texans at Arizona ... but due to him still being subject to the personal conduct policy, might not have been allowed to do the same post-trade in Miami.

And of course the same goes for Carolina, where Sam Darnold seems to be wilting. Surely they've tried to take Goodell's temperature, too.

It's the NFL version of Damocles’ sword. It looks good. It hangs there. It is an obstacle.

But now, at the NFL owners meetings in New York, Goodell offers comment, claiming of Watson's legal situation (and whether he'll be allowed to play): "We don't have all the access to that information at this time at this point in time.''

One can imagine how the Texans, Dolphins, Panthers and Watson can now agree on something else: Given that this situation came to light eight months ago, that seems nonsensical.

Is Goodell saying, "We know of no reason to keep Watson from playing''? If the Dolphins or Panthers guess in the affirmative, good for them. But an "agreement on terms''? How can they agree on moving a player who might not play?

OBSTACLE 2: Watson hasn’t taken a snap yet for the Texans this season (except for on occasion at practice) while facing 22 civil lawsuits by women accusing him of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior. ... and if not for all of that, Houston's asking price of three first-round picks-plus is likely viewed by Carolina and Miami as fair.

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But sources have indicated to us that despite volumes of conversations, the Dolphins have never offered that. (We do not know for sure Carolina's position there, but we assume the same.)

We'll work on the educated guess that if the Panthers or Dolphins ever do so, Texans GM Nick Caserio (along with the "hated'' owner Cal McNair) will super-speed-dial the NFL office to turn in the trade.

But if we're right - if "three first-rounders'' is both "fair'' and "not offered,'' just how "imminent'' can a deal be?

OBSTACLE 3: Which leads us directly to Obstacle 3. It occurs to us, as various sources have hinted this way and suggested that way, that the Texans for certain, and maybe the Dolphins, too, spent last week trying to peer around corners by offering info to the media that actually might only be about "trial balloons'' ... tests for what the other team, and the public, might react.

After all, it is actually counterintuitive to think that what would qualify as one of the most mammoth trades in NFL history, discussed among the parties for months, would come together in the span of days - without a deadline to force the action.

The deadline isn't today. It's Nov. 2. There is no compelling reason - except maybe to shove Watson in his new uniform this weekend, an unlikely scenario in any event - to have done it "by today.'' 

There are, however, compelling reasons for the teams to drop Easter eggs to the media to suggest the concept.

Additionally, we knew for a fact that "multiple teams'' and "moving parts'' (other quarterbacks?) were/are involved in the conversations. The Panthers and the Dolphins and Texans have a lot of work to do on this ... and logically, what speeds the work is the deadline.

That's why while we have reported the idea that things are "heating up'' and on the notion that "it's time,'' we have not reported that "it's imminent.''

The obstacles did not magically eliminate themselves by today. "Ignited'' was our word. "Imminent'' was wrong.

The Texans have until the Nov. 2 trade deadline to eliminate the obstacles ... and for a swap partner and Deshaun Watson to agree on one final, gigantic thing.