The Philadelphia Eagles reportedly plan to "pursue" a trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson if the 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault and misconduct are settled before the 2021 NFL draft.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Friday the "legal issues would need to be resolved" before the Eagles attempt to make a deal, but they are "sufficiently determined to upgrade" a roster that currently features Jalen Hurts and Joe Flacco as its top two quarterbacks.
Rusty Hardin, Watson's lawyer, and Houston-based attorney Tony Buzbee were in court Friday for hearings in which Hardin was requesting that the women who have filed lawsuits against the Texans quarterback re-file using their real names rather than Jane Doe, per ESPN's Sarah Barshop.
Hardin argued Buzbee is using anonymous lawsuits to "kill the reputation of our client," while Buzbee said one of the women who identified herself as a plaintiff has already received death threats, highlighting the need for anonymity.
Judge Dedra Davis ruled one woman must disclose her name, with another hearing Friday set to determine the fate of 12 other cases, per Barshop.
Watson requested a trade from the Texans earlier in the offseason, news that came to light before the lawsuits, according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
"And, you know, we have zero interest in trading the player," general manager Nick Caserio told reporters in late January. "We have a great plan, a great vision for him and for this team and his role on our team. We look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring."
Meanwhile, the Eagles' trade of Carson Wentz to the Indianapolis Colts in mid-March appeared to open the door for Hurts to take over the starter role uncontested for the 2021 season. Flacco being brought in as a veteran backup furthered that expectation.
Florio reported the Texans' expected return if they move the three-time Pro Bowl selection has changed, with the front office probably trending toward "conditional picks hinging on when and whether he's able to play in 2021" if it decides to move him.
The Miami Dolphins are another potential landing spot depending on the outcome of the legal situation, per Florio.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy called the allegations against Watson "deeply disturbing" and said the league is "continuing to closely monitor all developments in the matter."