The Deshaun Watson trade rumors are beginning to heat up again as training camp starts but his uncertain future remains an enormous variable in any deal for the 25-year-old quarterback.
Watson entered training camp this week with 22 civil lawsuits against him which allege he sexually assaulted or engaged in sexually inappropriate behavior with massage therapists.
There are also 10 criminal complaints against Watson and the NFL’s own investigation is still pending.
With so much uncertainty, former Miami Dolphins and New Orleans Saints GM Randy Mueller believes that it would be a huge mistake for any team to make a trade for Watson now.
“I think it would be suicidal,” Mueller told NJ Advance Media.
Depositions in the civil suits will begin in September, although Watson will not be deposed until after the NFL season in February 2022.
There is precedent of a player being suspended despite no criminal charges. In 2010, the NFL suspended Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy after being accused of sexual assault.
Mueller was a senior executive with the Chargers at that time, but noted that Watson’s case is different because of how many women that have come forward.
“This [situation] is a few more cases, and there may or may not be charges,” he said. “I don’t know if [Watson] plays this year at all. I don’t know how he could.”
On Monday, it was reported that the Texans were willing to listen to offers for Watson and that the asking price was starting with at least three-first round picks.
The Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins have been among the teams frequently being linked to having interest in Watson.
Later on Monday, however, Watson’s attorney told ESPN that there were 10 complaints filed with Houston police, including two from women not involved in the civil lawsuits.
Mueller believes that teams will not be able to vet Watson properly until the legal dust is settled.
“I don’t know that the league is going to come clean with their investigation, and I think they’ve purposely put the brekes on it, thinking it would take its legal course first,” Mueller said. “There’s just a lot of open-ended questions that I don’t think are vettable at this point.”
Mueller added: “Is he going to play or not? That’s what’s going to determine the value.”