The question is no longer if the Houston Texans will trade Deshaun Watson before the 2021 season, but rather if the NFL will allow Watson to participate at all in the 2021 season.
The league is formally investigating Watson — the Texans quarterback accused by some two dozen massage therapists of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior, including two who on Tuesday revealed their identity and told their stories — and has been in touch with Tony Buzbee, the Houston-based attorney representing most of Watson’s accusers.
“The allegations are deeply disturbing and we take these issues very seriously,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told the Miami Herald in a statement first provided to ESPN. “Immediately following news of the first allegations last month, and as has been reported, we initiated an investigation under the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy. We are continuing to closely monitory all developments in the matter.”
Watson, through his attorney, has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
While the Dolphins — who had interest in trading for Watson prior to the first of these accusations becoming public — or any team could technically still engage the Texans in conversations, there’s basically no chance any team is going to give up anything of value for a player who is under criminal and league investigation.
Houston police announced last week that someone has filed a criminal report which has led to an investigation.
Even without a criminal conviction, the NFL has the power to suspend Watson or any player that violates the league’s code of conduct.
And now that two of his alleged victims have come forward, the league will know who to contact for information.
Ashley Solis, the first of 22 women to file suit against Watson in recent weeks, revealed her identity and told her story for the first time Tuesday.
“I got into massage therapy to heal people,” Solis said, according to ESPN. “To heal their minds and bodies. To bring peace to their souls. Deshaun Watson has robbed me of that. He took that away from me, he tainted a profession in which I take enormous pride. ... I suffer from panic attacks, anxiety, and depression. I’m in counseling as a result of Deshaun Watson’s actions. I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on me emotionally and physically. And I hope he knows how much pain he’s inflicted on these other survivors.”
“People say that I’m doing this just for money,” Solis said. “That is false. I come forward now so that Deshaun Watson does not assault another woman.”
A second accuser, Lauren Baxley, wrote a letter to Watson that her attorney read Tuesday.
“Every boundary from professional and therapeutic to sexual and degrading you crossed or attempted to cross,” wrote to Watson. “ ... “I initially came forward to offer solidarity to other women, but I have since realized that I’m deserving of justice as well. I hope the court of law brings that justice, and that you’re stripped of both your power and ability to hurt more women.”
While it’s way,way down on the list of significance, considering the scope and detail of the accusations, count this among the many ramifications of these revelations: Tua Tagovailoa is all but certain to be the Miami Dolphins’ Week 1 starter at quarterback.
Tagovailoa, selected with the fifth overall pick in 2020, has spent the offeseason getting his body and game in top form. He has organized and led an informal passing camp with Dolphins receivers in recent weeks and the Dolphins will use the NFL Draft to add even more talented targets to their roster.
And with Watson radioactive, Tagovailoa should have complete confidence in his place on the team.