Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors: Texans' 'Target' Is to Deal QB Before 2022 Free Agency

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 9, 2022

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

The Houston Texans have set a tentative "target" to trade Deshaun Watson before the NFL's 2022 league year begins March 16, according to Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport.

Watson remains a member of the Texans in part because of the sexual assault and misconduct allegations he faces. He's the subject of 22 civil lawsuits and 10 formal police complaints.

Pelissero and Rapoport noted the situations will continue to evolve over the NFL offseason:

"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 has denied wrongdoing."

The Houston Chronicle's John McClain reported in October ahead of the NFL trade deadline the Texans and Miami Dolphins had struck a bargain over the general framework for a Watson trade. Houston would've received at least three first-round picks.

However, Dolphins owner Stephen Ross "wants his legal issues resolved" and required a level of clarity as to any suspension Watson might receive from the NFL. The league continues to investigate the allegations under its personal conduct policy.

Watson has yet to appear in a game this season, with Houston leaving him as a healthy scratch for each of its first 16 games. Davis Mills and Tyrod Taylor have split starting duties. Mills has gotten the bulk of the starts (10), throwing for 2,363 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Regarding any punishment, Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported in September the NFL "hasn’t made a decision about Watson because it doesn’t have to make a decision about Watson."

The three-time Pro Bowler has in effect been on a paid suspension. He has collected all of his $10.5 million base salary for 2021.

It seems unlikely the status quo will remain for a second straight year. Either Watson will suit back up for the Texans, or he'll be playing for another team.

Pelissero and Rapoport reported Houston plans to look at its "entire football operation," including first-year head coach David Culley.

Finally trading Watson would allow general manager Nick Caserio to have a clean slate, especially if Culley is jettisoned as well. The franchise would have a new coach, new starting quarterback and presumably multiple high-round draft picks to replenish the roster and start anew.