Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson

What is a no-trade clause in the NFL?

No-trade clauses are powerful negotiating tools for players in the NFL when working out the specifics of their contracts. For a player to secure a no-trade clause, they usually need to be a superstar, otherwise, they don't have enough leverage to convince a team to allow them to work the clause into their deal. But what does a no-trade clause really mean?

No-trade clauses in the NFL


A no-trade clause in an NFL contract means that a franchise can not trade a player to another team without that player's consent. If a player wants to go to a specific team and the team sets up the deal, the player can waive the clause and complete the transaction.

If the team attempted to trade the player without his consent, the player could block the trade and it would not be accepted under league rules. No-trade clauses are used by players to ensure that teams can't dump them for being unproductive, or send them to franchises that are not competitive.

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No-trade clauses also ensure that teams do not retaliate against players for attempting to switch franchises. If a player with a no-trade clause in his contract requests a trade and the front office gets upset with the player, the front office has no ability to intentionally send the player to a team that occupies the bottom of the power rankings.

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No-trade clauses may also feature variations, such as provisions allowing the team to only trade a player during a certain period, or to a pre-determined team, when a player submits a list of trade destinations that he would be willing to waive the clause for.


No-trade clauses have been in the news recently because star Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson has indicated his desire to be traded to another franchise. Watson has a no-trade clause written into his contract, so he will have to expressly consent to any trade and waive his no-trade clause before Houston is able to complete a deal for him.

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Watson has had a rocky career in Houston. The young QB has shown flashes of greatness but has also had to deal with issues such as abysmal offensive line play, turmoil in the front office, as head coach/GM Bill O'Brien was relieved of duty, and a lack of weapons. Houston traded Watson's favorite target, superstar WR DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals, and Houston hasn't looked the same since.

Also Read: What is Deandre Hopkins’ Contract Breakdown?

Deshaun Watson and DeAndre Hopkins

Other notable players whose contracts include no-trade clauses are Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, Buccaneers QB Tom Brady, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson, and Cardinals receivers Larry Fitzgerald and the aforementioned Hopkins.

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