Vikings Linked to Deshaun Watson, Who Ranks Minnesota With Super Bowl Contender

Getty Images Quarterback Deshaun Watson of the Houston Texans.

Deshaun Watson’s trade interest to the Minnesota Vikings is gaining steam.

First deemed a sleeper in the Watson sweepstakes, the Vikings recently ranked among a Super Bowl contender on the Texans quarterback’s trade wish list.

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Watson Eyeing Vikings, Buccaneers in Trade Evaluations

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on Wednesday, February 16, that Watson, “who spent the 2021 season on the team’s active roster but did not play (due to unresolved civil complaints), has begun evaluating potential fits for his services in 2022, with the Buccaneers and Vikings among teams on his radar.”

The Vikings ranking among the Buccaneers, who won the Super Bowl a year ago, is a credit to the potential in Minnesota, which hasn’t seen the playoffs since 2019.

“One source noted that Watson — who has a no-trade clause — is still early in the evaluation process, but he’s looking for the right blend of offensive system, coaching, talent and, most importantly, the chance to win,” Fowler added.

However, Watson’s questionable future in the NFL will make any trade for the three-time Pro Bowl quarterback a risk.

He faces 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct and sexual assault. At least 10 women, including two who have not filed civil suits, have filed police complaints against Watson. He has denied all allegations, per The Athletic.

“His legal issues remain unresolved, and whether the league suspends him under the personal conduct policy is uncertain. The expectation leaguewide, however, is that the Texans will once again explore trade options for Watson, possibly around the start of the new league year March 16 or the NFL draft in late April,” Fowler wrote.

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Vikings Offense Has Intrigue to Watson

The Vikings’ weapons on offense present an intriguing match for Watson, who wants to move on from a Houston franchise that seemingly traded away all of his weapons, most recently in DeAndre Hopkins last offseason.

But to acquire Hopkins, the Vikings will have to offload Kirk Cousins in a potential trade with the Texans or to another team to acquire enough draft capital to trade for Watson.

“The Vikings have intriguing young pieces in Justin Jefferson and Dalvin Cook, and they face a decision on the contract of Kirk Cousins, a 2023 free agent who has a $45 million cap hit in 2022. New coach Kevin O’Connell, however, conveyed a strong belief in Cousins during his interview process with Minnesota, relaying a vision for maximizing his skill set,” Fowler wrote.

While Fowler has followed recent reports that have amplified O’Connell’s confidence with Cousins as his signal-caller, those leaks could be a tactic to raise Cousins’ value in the trade market.

The Athletic’s Chad Graff reported that O’Connell, who worked with Cousins for a year in Washington, had a “nuanced review” of the veteran quarterback, which likely indicates O’Connell is confident whether Cousins stays or goes.

“When (San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Demeco Ryans) withdrew his name from the running, speculation swirled that he knew something, perhaps that the job was being steered toward another candidate. The Vikings’ search committee flew to Los Angeles and interviewed O’Connell and (Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris) on Monday. Both conversations went well, but O’Connell “blew them away,” according to a source,” Graff wrote. “He had studied the team’s roster from the previous season. He came prepared with ideas on how to improve the team and was able to offer a nuanced review of quarterback Kirk Cousins, whom he coached for one season in Washington.”

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