Houston Texans coach Lovie Smith said he has “no idea” if quarterback Deshaun Watson will be on the team’s roster next season, but that he thinks both parties will eventually “benefit from the situation.”
Watson, who requested a trade from the Texans in January 2021, faces 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault or inappropriate behavior. He reported to training camp last July but did not play for the Texans last season. The quarterback was a healthy scratch for all 17 games and collected his $10 million salary.
Smith, who was promoted from defensive coordinator to head coach last month to replace David Culley, said that while he doesn’t know whether Watson will still be on the Texans’ roster, “the good part about it is time kind of takes care of everything.”
“I just know Deshaun is an excellent football player,” Smith said at a news conference Wednesday. “Excellent football players need to be playing somewhere in the NFL. Hopefully that will happen and if it’s not with us it’s somewhere else and I’m sure … as I see in this situation, both of us eventually are going to benefit from the situation and I just can’t wait for that to speed up a little bit.”
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If Watson is eventually traded, it won’t be to the Miami Dolphins. General manager Chris Grier, who said last season that the team did due diligence on Watson before ultimately deciding against trading for him, said Wednesday that “the door is shut on Deshaun” as Miami continues to build around 2020 first-round pick, Tua Tagovailoa.
Grier said new head coach Mike McDaniel presented a plan for Tagovailoa during the interview process and the Dolphins are confident enough to stick with the third-year quarterback.
“Mike and his staff have put in a lot of work and studied a lot of Tua, and they feel good about his developmental upside and what he can be and how he fits in the offense,” Grier said. “I think we’re good with Tua.”
When asked whether he believed Tagovailoa could become elite, Grier responded: “I can’t say he can’t be.”
Watson, meanwhile, is also waiting to find out if he will face criminal charges. His attorney, Rusty Hardin, told ESPN in July that 10 women have filed complaints with Houston police about Watson, eight of whom had filed lawsuits.
Last month, Hardin said in court that the Harris County district attorney will likely decide by April 1 whether Watson will be charged criminally. The same day, a judge ruled that Watson could be deposed in relation to nine of the civil cases.
On Tuesday, general manager Nick Caserio said the Texans are “day to day in terms of handling” Watson’s situation.
“Once the information becomes more relevant or prevalent, then we’ll handle it accordingly,” Caserio said. “My philosophy from the beginning has always been to do the right thing by the Houston Texans organization, and we’re going to continue to do that here moving forward.”
During his news conference, Smith said the Texans are hoping for “a prompt resolution” to Watson’s future with the team.
“But I’m also a patient man, too, and time normally takes care of everything,” Smith said. “We understand this is Year 2 and I know Deshaun wants to play and … it will come to a head. I have faith in that. We just have to give it a little time and hopefully everybody will be happy with it. I’m sure that will be the case.”
ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques contributed to this report.
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