The Deshaun Watson saga continues with no resolution to the allegations surrounding his massage sessions.
However, new revelations suggest settlements were imminent until one touchpoint was a dealbreaker: Non-disclosure agreements.
Give The Lawyers Some
Attorney Tony Buzzbee represents the 22 women who have accused the Houston Texans quarterback. He told a Houston television station this week the quest for a settlement before the NFL trade deadline expired was stymied by his clients’ refusal to sign an NDA.
Although the Dolphins did due diligence on Deshaun Watson and had conversations with Houston, Miami will not make a trade for the QB, per source. Dolphins’ owner Stephen Ross, who had contingencies that needed to be met for any deal, made the final decision to not move forward.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 2, 2021
“In what was submitted to us, there were nondisclosure agreements, and many of the women pushed back on those,” said Buzbee to Houston television station Fox 26 on Tuesday.
No NDAs, Please
Although the language was modified “substantially” in the NDAs, according to Buzzbee. However, he told Houston’s Fox 26 that “there were still some women who said, ‘I’m never going to sign that.'”
He added that the NDAs were ultimately the “dealbreaker” with Watson’s accusers.
#Texans QB Deshaun Watson not settling his legal situation has resulted in him not getting traded, source said. Watson will stay put in Houston until the offseason.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 2, 2021
Deshaun Watson wants a trade from the Houston Texans, and he let it be known before being embroiled in scandal. The offseason didn’t go as expected for Watson, who hoped to put the negativity behind him in hopes of getting back to the game.
Trade Sought But Not Achieved
However, Watson hasn’t played for the Texans during the 2021 season. In 2020, Watson signed a $177.5 million four-year contract extension with $111 million in guarantees. The agreement was supposed to keep him under contract through the 2025 season.
At the start of 2021, he requested a trade until the 22 civil lawsuits and ten criminal complaints about sexual misconduct in four different states intervened. Watson is not suspended. However, he remains on the Texans roster.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 2, 2021
According to reports, although trade rumors have abounded for Watson, primarily connected to the Miami Dolphins, Watson wouldn’t sign any settlement that involved a confidentiality agreement.
“I do not want anybody to be saying that this guy paid off women to stay quiet,” Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin said to ESPN in July.
According to the lawyer for the accusers, Watson was willing to settle some of the 22 civil cases.
“First it was, ‘We need to get 22 cases settled’ and then it was, ‘Well, maybe we can get 20 cases settled,’ and, finally, there was some discussion of maybe even less than that,” said Buzbee to Houston’s Fox 26. “But based on the terms that were submitted to us, we weren’t going to get 22 settlements. Period.”
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on #Texans QB Deshaun Watson: “We don’t have all the access to that information & pride ourselves on not interfering with it. That process is ongoing.”
Important: “We don't feel we have that necessary information to place him on the exempt list.”
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 26, 2021
Now all roads lead to a full-fledged court case to get to a final resolution. There can be no growth as a professional football player for Watson until the cases are behind him.
However, an immense trust chasm exists, both with the public and a new organization. The distance that can be created between the accusations and Watson is his only hope for football salvation.
“From my point of view, I’m looking forward to taking Mr. Watson’s testimony in February,” said Buzbee on Fox 26 Houston. “We’re going to prepare the cases for trial because, ultimately, people can commentate and give their opinion, but the ultimate opinion that matters is twelve people that sit on a jury in Harris County.
“You know, all these so-called experts, keyboard warriors, who think they know what happened in those massage rooms, they don’t know. I know and these women know and time is on our side. We’re going to prepare the case and we’re going to try the case.”
For Watson, with the deck stacked against him in the court of public opinion, now he faces the unknown en route to a hopeful return to NFL greatness.