Deshaun Watson made a shrewd move Sunday when he reported early for training camp with the other quarterbacks and rookies.
Watson showed up at NRG Stadium for the first time since the end of last season, avoiding a fine of $50,000 a day, creating a colossal distraction for a team in rebuilding mode and putting pressure on the Texans to make a move.
But what could that move be?
Watson reiterated he still wants to be traded. That means he doesn’t want to be at the facility, and the Texans don’t want him there, but a trade doesn’t appear imminent, according to team sources. Any move would likely come when his legal issues are resolved.
The Texans have options when it comes to Watson. He can attend meetings and practice. He can be given an excused absence and be able to leave and work out on his own without being fined. He can be placed on the exempt list (essentially paid administrative leave) by commissioner Roger Goodell until the league concludes its investigation.
The league’s personal conduct policy empowers Goodell to put a player on the exempt list “when an investigation leads the Commissioner to believe that a player may have violated this Policy.”
The conduct policy says that Goodell “may act where the circumstances and evidence warrant doing so,” and adds: “This decision will not reflect a finding of guilt or innocence and will not be guided by the same legal standards and considerations that would apply in a criminal trial.”
Tony Buzbee, who represents the women in the civil cases said “almost half” have given sworn statements to the police and spoken to the NFL. He said he expects to give the NFL more information.
Watson or the NFL Players Association could appeal his placement on paid leave. A player on paid leave cannot practice or play in games but is permitted to be at the team’s facility for meetings, workouts, therapy and rehabilitation.
Just a reminder, the first of the depositions by Watson’s accusers may begin in September. There is a criminal complaint, filed in April, that is still under investigation. There’s no formal timeline for when (or if) the NFL may act on the exempt list; some people think he should already be on it. We’re just waiting for updates until then. Sean Pendergast has more.