NEW YORK — The playing status of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, one of the hottest topics in the NFL ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline, does not sound as if it will be altered any time soon.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at the league owners meetings that the NFL doesn’t yet have enough information about the 22 civil lawsuits that have been filed alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior by Watson to make a decision on potential discipline, and that the information they do have is not enough to convince the league to place him on the commissioner’s exempt list.
“Obviously, the police have been investigating, and we don’t have access to all of that information at this point in time,” Goodell said. “We pride ourselves on not interfering in that and in being as cooperative as we can in order to get all the facts. I think that process is still ongoing.”
Watson, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, has informed the Texans that he wants to be traded and does not plan to play for them again. He’s been showing up at the team facility every day since the start of training camp, but the team has been content to leave him on the inactive list for each of its seven regular-season games so far.
The Texans have been in contact with several teams regarding a potential trade for Watson, but interested teams have been hesitant to meet Houston’s asking price due to the uncertainty around his legal situation and potential discipline from the league.
So it remains unclear whether, if Watson is traded during this season, he’d be eligible to play for his new team or if the commissioner’s office would step in. As of now, there appears to be a mutual agreement between Watson and the Texans that makes any suspension or use of the commissioner’s exempt list unnecessary, even if the league deemed it warranted. Should he be traded, the league would have to decide whether to allow him to play. Based on what Goodell said Tuesday, it sounds as if it would.