ESPN: Deshaun Watson 'Plans to Play Somehow, Somewhere'; QB 'Intrigued' by Broncos

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 15, 2021

HOUSTON, TEXAS - JANUARY 03: Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans participates in warmups prior to a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium on January 03, 2021 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is reportedly preparing to play during the 2021 season despite the NFL's ongoing investigation into 22 civil lawsuits filed against him by women alleging sexual assault or misconduct.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the update Thursday on SportsCenter and noted Watson, who requested a trade before the allegations became public, is "intrigued" by the Denver Broncos if he's ultimately dealt by the Texans:

"I spoke with a source close to Watson who said he's been working out rigorously since early June and he has a plan. And he plans to play somehow, somewhere and eventually. So, it's not clear-cut right now because his cases are not resolved. The league is still investigating. Now, I spoke to somebody in Houston who said they believe that he largely won't be expected in training camp because that's a precedent he set early in the offseason, that he wasn't going to show up, but there is no clarity on that yet. The league can always place him on the Commissioner's Exempt List as they get closer to camp, which would keep him away.
"Now, we know the Eagles are well-positioned. They have a lot of draft capital in the future, as our Adam Schefter pointed out. Also, don't sleep on Denver here because I have been told that Watson has long been intrigued by the Broncos. They have good options on offense, and Denver is believed to be at least one of the teams that's from afar monitoring the quarterback landscape around the league, Watson included."

In March, Watson posted a statement on Twitter after the first lawsuit of this nature was filed against him. He said the woman's lawyer had made a "baseless six-figure settlement demand" that he rejected:

Deshaun Watson @deshaunwatson

<a href="https://t.co/ZVb2R2mFlc">pic.twitter.com/ZVb2R2mFlc</a>

"Mr. Watson has been adamant that he did not engage in any improper conduct and we strongly believe him," Rusty Hardin, the quarterback's lawyer, said in an April statement.

The NFL called allegations in the 22 lawsuits "deeply disturbing" and confirmed it opened an investigation under its personal conduct policy on April 6. No additional details have been released.

Watson's uncertain availability for the 2021 campaign led Houston to overhaul its quarterback room during the offseason with the addition of veterans Tyrod Taylor and Jeff Driskel along with rookie Davis Mills, a third-round pick out of Stanford in this year's draft.

If the 25-year-old Clemson product is cleared to play, it's unknown whether he'll stick by his prior trade request and seek a move out of Houston before the regular season kicks off in September.

Watson has been one of the NFL's best signal-callers since the Texans selected him in the first round of the 2017 draft. He's completed 67.8 percent of his throws for 14,539 yards with 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions across 54 games. He's added 1,677 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground.

He'd be a definite on-field upgrade for the Broncos, who are currently slated to have a quarterback competition between Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater during training camp and the preseason.

Denver's offense otherwise features ample upside with two solid running backs (Melvin Gordon III and Royce Freeman), one of the league's most underrated wide receiver quartets (Jerry Jeudy, Courtland Sutton, Tim Patrick and KJ Hamler) and a high-upside tight end (Noah Fant).

The unit could take off in a major way if the front office is able to add a star quarterback to take advantage of that plethora of playmakers. Aaron Rodgers, whose status with the Green Bay Packers is uncertain, is another signal-caller who could be of interest if he becomes of available.

Denver is scheduled to open the regular season Sept. 12 when it visits the New York Giants. The NFL hasn't provided a timetable for a ruling on Watson's status for the start of the campaign.