It’s the rumor that isn’t going away anytime soon.
Wilson says the Niners, Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers, New York Jets, Miami Dolphins and Philadelphia Eagles are still exploring trade possibilities for Watson, even though the 25-year-old is facing numerous lawsuits for sexual assault allegations from several different women.
Wilson spoke with one NFL executive about trading for Watson, given the current situation.
”We need to know more facts before making a firm decision on a trade, but, yes, we’re still interested. How could you not be interested in Deshaun Watson possibly being your quarterback? The guy is an incredible talent.”
Former NFL GM Michael Lombardi said Watson is interested in playing for either San Francisco or Denver. The quarterback has a no-trade clause, so he can dictate where he ends up.
This could be just the beginning for Watson, whose potentially facing another 15 lawsuits on top of the seven that are currently making their way to the courts. His lawyer says he will respond to the allegations in the coming week.
The NFL is investigating the situation, and if it finds any wrongdoings by Watson, he would likely face a suspension. No criminal charges have been filed against him.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will do their due diligence on Watson and will ultimately decide if it's worth pursuing the quarterback given the circumstances.
On the field, Watson is one of the top five quarterbacks in the league. He threw for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions for a Texans squad that went 4-12 last season. Pro Football Focus gave Watson the third-highest grade of any QB for the 2020 campaign.
Watson is signed through the 2025 season, and his cap hit for 2021 is $15.9 million before jumping up to $40 million in 2022, per Spotrac. The 49ers would have to give up a ton of draft capital and some young talented pieces to land Watson, but he would undoubtedly make the Niners one of the Super Bowl favorites.
If Lynch and Shanahan elect not to pursue Watson, San Francisco is still in good shape going into next season. The 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo, whose record is 24-8, as a starter. The health issues with Jimmy G are valid, but we have seen how good the team can be when he’s on the field.
The Watson drama will continue to play out in the coming weeks. The lawsuits add a layer of uncertainty for any team that pursues him, but if he is cleared of the allegations, he would immediately become the top priority for many NFL teams.