Deshaun Watson was found not guilty by a grand jury Friday on nine accusations of sexual misconduct. The Houston Texans quarterback could still face a suspension from the NFL for violating the league's personal conduct policy. But Watson is a free man with a no-trade clause, meaning he'll have a say in where he's traded.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have been attached to trade rumors regarding Watson since the offseason began. With the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers are a win-now roster searching for a quarterback.
However, ProFootballNetwork insider Aaron Wilson tweeted Friday that the Steelers haven't and won't be a player in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes.
In addition to Wilson, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN have said the Steelers won't pursue a trade. In general, the Steelers appear to be looking for a cheaper option at quarterback.
Steelers analyst Andrew Fillipponi has heard from sources that cheaper options, like Marcus Mariota and Ryan Fitzpatrick, are in sight rather than a more expensive quarterback.
Given the Texans' asking price for Watson is three first-round picks and players, it's not a bad idea for the Steelers to pursue other options. Watson has no shortage of interested suitors who will pull out all the stops to land him.
Where will Deshaun Watson play in 2022?
Deshaun Watson has plenty of interest from other teams, such as the Carolina Panthers, Philadelphia Eagles, and New Orleans Saints.
The Panthers, in particular, have emerged as a favorite to land the 26-year-old. The Panthers did their due diligence on Watson last offseason. Head coach Matt Rhule knows he's sitting on the hot seat, and making a splash at quarterback is the likeliest way for him to save his job.
Should Watson join the Panthers, it'd be interesting to see if Christian McCaffrey would remain part of the team. McCaffrey is a trade candidate this offseason, and to acquire Watson, the Panthers would have to surrender a lot of draft picks.
McCaffrey is an elite running back but could recoup some of the lost assets. But with Rhule's job on the line, it'd be a puzzling move to move on from their best player.
Watson will be traded sooner rather than later. Where he lands is anybody's guess. The three-time Pro Bowler had 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions in 2020. Whoever trades for him will solidify their quarterback position for the next decade.