With Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson being among the quarterbacks linked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the team addressed the trade rumors during the NFL Combine. Bucs head coach Bruce Arians sounded like there was some interest in Watson but admitted that the team’s ownership would have to okay any potential deal given the ongoing civil suits against the quarterback.
“It would strictly be organizational signoff,” Arians explained to ESPN’s Jenna Laine on March 1. “I’ve known the kid for a long time. I’m shocked that he’s in this situation. But that would be a strict organizational signoff.”
Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht declined to discuss Watson given he is under contract with the Texans. Acquiring Watson would still likely cost the Buccaneers a premium despite the quarterback’s legal challenges.
“Another quarterback the Bucs have been linked to is Deshaun Watson, but he currently faces accusations of sexual assault by 22 different women,” Laine detailed. “Licht declined to discuss Watson because his personal policy is not to discuss players under contract with other teams, while Arians said ownership would have to make the call.”
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Teams Are ‘Unwilling to Pursue’ a Trade for Watson Until Civil Suits Are Resolved: Report
The civil suits emerged as Watson made it known last offseason that he does not want to play for the Texans again. Watson sat out the 2021 season as the Texans fielded trade offers, but the ongoing legal cases have complicated Houston’s ability to deal the franchise quarterback.
Not only does Watson face legal consequences, but the NFL has the ability to hand down a hefty suspension if the quarterback is found guilty in any of the cases. Watson still has four seasons remaining on his four-year, $156 million contract.
The quarterback is slated to have a $35 million salary for 2022, per Spotrac. The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported that the buzz during the NFL Combine is “teams remain unwilling to pursue a trade” for Watson until the legal issues are resolved.
“Until Deshaun Watson’s legal situation is resolved, teams remain unwilling to pursue a trade for the Texans quarterback,” Howe wrote on March 3. “The Texans previously asked for five to seven assets, including three first-round picks, and the Dolphins and Panthers were among the teams that showed interest last season before the trade deadline. They ultimately backed off while he faced 22 civil suits for alleged sexual misconduct. (Watson has denied all allegations.) Teams haven’t shown any urgency to pursue a trade this offseason while his legal situation is still up in the air.”
Arians on Trade Rumors: ‘We’ve Called Everybody’
Throughout the NFL Combine, Arians threw cold water on the idea that the Bucs would be able to land a quarterback via a blockbuster trade. Yet, Arians confirmed that Tampa Bay has had trade discussions about potentially acquiring a quarterback.
“I just don’t see those coaches having anything behind door No. 2,” Arians told NFL Network on March 1. “You’re giving up a Pro Bowl player, the guys that everybody’s talking about trading, who’s playing for them?
“…Yeah, we’ve called everybody just like every year. You call about all the players you think they might want to trade and have healthy conversations, and see what it would take, what it wouldn’t take. That’s probably been going on for a month. …I don’t see it, as the coach, I’d be really pissed if you traded my guy.”