Brian Flores: Dolphins Want 'High Character' Players amid Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVAugust 30, 2021

CINCINNATI, OHIO - AUGUST 29: Brian Flores the head coach of the Miami Dolphins against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on August 29, 2021 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

On Saturday, Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports reported that the Miami Dolphins were the "frontrunner" in trade talks for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, who is currently being sued by 22 women accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct in addition to being the subject of a criminal investigation:

Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson

Thread. Sources tell <a href="https://twitter.com/YahooSports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@yahoosports</a> the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a> have emerged as the frontrunner in trade discussions with the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a> for QB Deshaun Watson. The Texans are seeking 3 first-round picks and 2 second-round picks in negotiations, according to a team that dropped out of trade talks.

Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson

Sources said teams have angled for pick protections in any trade, to mitigate a potential <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NFL?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NFL</a> suspension or criminal prosecution tied to ongoing investigations by the FBI, Harris County prosecutor and Houston PD, into sexual assault allegations from multiple women.

On Monday, Dolphins head coach Brian Flores spoke to reporters about the type of players the organization looks for when attempting to improve the roster. While he didn't mention Watson by name, Flores said the team was looking for "high character" players:

"There are a lot of things we weigh when we're making decisions—fit on the team, overall talent, salary cap. When we're talking about a player or players, we're always trying to do what is best for the Miami Dolphins. There are a lot of variables. We want a group that is tough, smart, competitive, loves to play and is team first. Those are the types of guys we're looking for. We have a high standard for the people we have in the organization. We want people with high character throughout the building."

Despite Flores' comments, Robinson reiterated his reporting on Monday:

Charles Robinson @CharlesRobinson

Can’t state it any more clearly: My Watson reporting is from high-level sourcing in 5 teams: <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dolphins?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Dolphins</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Texans?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Texans</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Broncos?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Broncos</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Eagles?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Eagles</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Panthers?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Panthers</a> and inside Watson’s camp. I challenge the Dolphins to state on the record that they haven’t spoken to Houston about a Watson deal in camp.

The Dolphins did use the No. 5 overall pick in the 2020 draft on quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so any pursuit of Watson would be somewhat surprising unless the Dolphins' brass has already decided that the young quarterback's upside will never match the level of play that Watson has already hit. 

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

The Watson possibility always has appealed to someone extremely, extremely high in the organization, but they're not going to be snookered with compensation. Anyway, on to other topics... <a href="https://t.co/oZsAoXzswB">https://t.co/oZsAoXzswB</a>

Barry Jackson @flasportsbuzz

As I noted in my story yesterday, Dolphins spoke excitedly about Watson in an interview with a coaching candidate earlier this year. And Watson's ability to refuse trades to other suitors (Houston radio station said he won't accept Philadelphia) is a factor in all this. We'll see

"He has taken a step as far as leadership and working with his teammates to get things right," Flores told reporters regarding Tagovailoa. "He is asking more questions to us as a coaching staff situationally. He has made some very good strides. There's still a lot of room for improvement. Hopefully we continue to make improvement."

But any team's potential interest in Watson is somewhat surprising given his unresolved legal situation. At the very least, he may be facing an NFL suspension regardless of how pending litigation or criminal investigations conclude. 

Gregg Rosenthal @greggrosenthal

i don’t want to believe the Watson trade rumors because i don’t want to believe the NFL would be that disappointing

Kevin Clark @bykevinclark

There is no way a functioning, serious NFL team would meet that asking price for Watson right now. If a team does, they are not a functioning, serious team.

There's no question that on the field, Watson is one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. The 25-year-old threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions on a Texans' team largely devoid of dangerous weapons last year, completing 70.2 percent of his passes. He'd be a major upgrade for a wide collection of teams. 

But quarterbacks are also the faces of franchises in the NFL, and acquiring one who is being accused of sexual assault and misconduct by multiple women would be met with enormous, and justifiable, backlash. If Watson isn't traded and takes the field for the Texans, it will likely be met with a similar backlash. 

It's always possible that Roger Goodell will place Watson on the Commissioner's Exempt list until his litigation and any criminal investigations are resolved. However, so far the league has said there are "no restrictions" on Watson's team activities while its investigation is ongoing.

Still, it certainly remains a possibility that he won't see the field during the 2021 season.