NFL free agency week has arrived. The legal contact period begins on Monday with the new league year officially kicking off at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday. This means that trades could be agreed to in the coming days and executed shortly thereafter.
One of the biggest names—if not the biggest—circulating the rumor mill leading up to free agency has been Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. This is both because he is a three-time Pro Bowler and because he has been trying to force his way out of Houston.
According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, the 25-year-old has informed new head coach David Culley that he does not intend to play for the franchise again:
Dan Graziano @DanGrazianoESPN
Per sources, Texans QB Deshaun Watson met with new Texans head coach David Culley last Friday. In that meeting Watson reiterated that he wants to be traded and told Culley he has no intention of playing for the Texans again. No change from Watson's end. He remains dug in.
"I highly doubt [Watson] will suit up in a Texans uniform again," he told the NFL: Huddle & Flow podcast (h/t Steve Wyche of NFL Network). "He's extremely serious."
Thus far, Watson's attempt to force a trade hasn't produced much momentum. According to Pro Football Talk's Peter King, Houston hasn't given much attention to trade offers.
"Houston is not only not interested in trading Watson but also not interested in listening to offers for him. At least two teams have given offers to Houston and gotten zero feedback. Like, no reaction, no 'We'll get back to you.' Nothing," King wrote.
Of course, the Texans have little reason to seriously consider offers ahead of free agency or really, ahead of the draft. If they are at all interested in leveraging Watson for a lucrative package of draft picks, their best chance may be right before the draft.
By then, teams will have an idea of who they're willing to target on draft weekend and/or what their veteran options could be. At the same time, Houston could become more enamored with one of the 2021 draft's top quarterback prospects.
If the Texans are more sold on, say, BYU quarterback Zach Wilson in the days before the draft, they may be more willing to offer Watson for one of the top few selections—along with other compensation.
"As we get closer to the draft, that's when I believe things will ultimately heat up," NFL Network's Jim Trotter said on The Rich Eisen Show. "Not before."
This sentiment falls in line with what team decision-makers around the NFL reportedly believe about Watson's situation.
"They sense that Houston has no reason to jump at this point," ESPN's Jeff Darlington said on The Rich Eisen Show. There's a belief that Watson will eventually be available, that he will wind up playing for another team."
So, while a Watson trade could still occur during the early stages of free agency, it appears more likely it won't. If the quarterback is dealt at all, it probably won't happen until closer to the draft when most of the other free-agency and trade dominoes have already fallen.