The Houston Texans are reportedly listening to offers for star quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to NFL insiders Tom Pelissero and Ian Rapoport.
The team had publicly stated that they plan on keeping the quarterback this upcoming season despite his trade request but have seemingly softened their stance since.
Watson requested a trade from the franchise in January because he was disappointed with the organization. He expected the Texans to ask him for his input before appointing a new head coach, but the team did not and hired David Culley to lead the team next season. Watson wanted the team to hire Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.
Another factor that soured his relationship with the franchise was Jack Easterby's rise inside the organization without a valid reason except for his relationship with Texans owner Cal McNair. Easterby was the "culture coach" who had a strong influence on McNair's decisions, like the hiring of Nick Caserio as general manager, which infuriated Watson.
The quarterback has been seeking a trade since January, but the Texans' stance has been clear from the start: Houston would not listen to offers for the player. However, it seems they have finally changed their minds after Watson reported to training camp on Sunday but reiterated his desire to move on.
What will a trade for Deshaun Watson cost?
Per Pelissero, the Texans will demand at least three first-round picks from suitors for their franchise quarterback. This is a rather generous assessment of what it would take to acquire Watson.
In January, the Los Angeles Rams gave up two first-round picks and a third-round pick along with quarterback Jared Goff to acquire Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions.
The San Francisco 49ers traded their 2021, 2022 and 2023 first-round picks in April to move up nine spots in the draft to select Trey Lance.
Stafford is a reliable veteran entering the tail-end of his career, while Lance is a rookie who is yet to take a snap in the NFL. Both cost a fortune to their respective teams.
Watson is one of the finest quarterbacks in the NFL and is only 25. It will probably take a king's ransom for the Texans to even consider trading their star quarterback.
Any team willing to trade for Watson is aware that the quarterback could face legal consequences stemming from the sexual assault allegations made by more than 20 women against him.
Watson could be fined or suspended based on the league's personal conduct policy, but as of now, the NFL is yet to act on this front. The league is likely waiting for the results of the lawsuits before taking any action.
Three first-round picks and more for a player whose future is in question is incredibly high risk and the negotiations will reflect that.