Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans: What we know and what's next

HOUSTON -- Houston Texans starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor went on injured reserve because of a left hamstring injury sustained in Week 2.

Still, the Texans did not turn to Deshaun Watson, but instead started rookie third-round pick Davis Mills.


Watson, who requested a trade in January, has been accused of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior in 22 active civil lawsuits and has been inactive for the Texans' first three games.

When asked after the Texans' Week 3 loss to the Carolina Panthers whether Watson would play for Houston again this season, coach David Culley said, "It's week to week."

Watson is on their 53-man roster, even though he is not practicing or playing. Sources within the organization have made it clear the Texans plan to continue to list him as "not injury related" on the team's daily injury report.

Here's where things stand with Watson entering Week 4:

Where does Watson's legal situation stand?



Depositions were scheduled to begin in September for the 22 plaintiffs who have filed a civil lawsuit against Watson, but he cannot be deposed before Feb. 22, 2022.

Last month, Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, said theallegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior against Watson are being investigated by the FBI. Hardin also said Watson spoke to the FBI about allegations of extortion regarding one lawsuit.

In that news conference, Hardin said his law firm "will continue to cooperate with [the FBI] in any way that they want."

He also said they have cooperated with the Houston Police Department and district attorney's office.

At the time, he said Watson had not spoken to the NFL because typically the league "tries to not reach out to the defendant and his lawyers and seek evidence from them until the criminal investigation is over."

Is Watson practicing?




No. Watson does not take part in Texans practice and has been ruled out each week on the final injury report. And he does not travel on the road and is not on the sideline during games.

During training camp, Watson was in and out of practice, but never took part in team reps. Toward the end of camp, he often worked out on a side field while his teammates were practicing. Since the start of the season, he has not been on the field in the portion of practice open to the media.

How much are the Texans paying Watson per week to be inactive?



Although Watson signed a contract extension in August 2020 and has been paid a $27 million signing bonus, the quarterback is playing on the last year of his rookie deal.

Watson is being paid a base salary of $10.54 million this season, or $620,000 per game.

What are the issues preventing a trade?



The lack of clarity around Watson's legal situation makes it difficult for a team to know what Watson's status will be for this season -- he could be put on the commissioner's exempt list or suspended -- and beyond.

Since Watson requested a trade in January, general manager Nick Caserio has been clear to other teams that the price for Watson is high. Sources told ESPN that Houston is not interested in trading Watson with conditions on the picks if he is suspended by the league.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, Houston asked over the summer for a package of six players and NFL draft picks from teams interested in trading for the quarterback. They would rather let the legal situation play out than take less or agree to conditions.

What are the key dates to be aware, of including the trade deadline?




The NFL trade deadline is at 4 p.m. ET on Nov. 2. If Watson is not traded by the deadline, a trade could not be made official until the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on March 16, 2022.

What has the NFL said about Watson's situation?



The NFL has not addressed Watson's situation since just before the start of training camp, when the league released a statement saying it was not restricting Watson from taking part in any club activities.

Why isn't Watson on the commissioner's exempt list?



In July, a league source told ESPN the NFL had not been given access to talk to many of the plaintiffs or to third parties who might have relevant information. The source also said the league had not been given access to evidence the police have gathered in their investigation.

While NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could put Watson on the exempt list because of the civil lawsuits, he has chosen not to. If there are criminal charges filed against Watson, that could change.

In 2020, Goodell placed then-New York Giants cornerback DeAndre Baker and then-Seattle Seahawks cornerback Quinton Dunbar on the commissioner's exempt list when they had pending criminal charges.

In 2017, Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott was not placed on the list before he was suspended for six games for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy. And in 2020, Antonio Brown was a free agent when he was suspended eight games for multiple violations of the NFL's personal conduct policy.

What's next for Watson and the Texans?



The Texans expect this to be a waiting game, unless a team comes with an offer that blows them away. Watson doesn't want to play for the Texans, and the team spent much of the offseason and training camp distancing itself from the quarterback.

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