According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Houston Texans declined the Indianapolis Colts’ attempt to speak with legally embattled superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson and presumably his agent representation:
Houston has declined Indianapolis’ attempt to speak with Deshaun Watson, per source. Houston comfortable trading Watson - just not in the AFC South.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2022
While Watson has assuredly played his last snap in Houston—having sat out the 2021 season amidst 23 allegations of sexual misconduct from individual women, and disgruntlement with the Texans’ front office (as he sought out a trade initially), it appears as though he won’t be dealt within the AFC South to a divisional rival, rather unsurprisingly.
Even though Watson was cleared of criminal charges this past week, he still faces ongoing civil litigation—and depending on those outcomes, could be looking at a lengthy league suspension too:
The Watson trade talks originally stalled and NFL investigation started before any criminal charges. Any team acquiring him now is taking on the same uncertainty in civil cases and potential NFL suspension as last March.— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) March 14, 2022
That being said, from purely a talent standpoint, the 26 year old is clearly a franchise quarterback—having thrown for 33 touchdowns to 7 interceptions for a league-leading 4,823 total passing yards (as well as amassed 444 total rushing yards and 3 rushing touchdowns) during the 2020 campaign.
However, any acquiring team will have to be cognizant (and perhaps willing to look past) his potential character concerns—with an alarming number of serious allegations from women (although even one is highly troublesome).
Given how much Colts general manager Chris Ballard has preached leadership and the character of the locker room (and that team owner Jim Irsay has three daughters of his own), it’s at least a little surprising the Colts even checked in—especially given the insurmountable odds that the Texans would trade him inter-division from the get-go.
Nevertheless, given that the Colts need a franchise quarterback again (and are staring at a current vacancy entirely), and Watson is the best talent realistically available, in other ways, it’s not all that surprising that Ballard performed his due diligence here—and made the call.