How interested should the Bucs be in Watson?

by Gary Shelton on February 17, 2022

in general

Dealing for Watson would be tricky.

Thursday, 4 a.m.

He's young enough to outlast his critics.

He's talented enough to entice new employers.

He's enough of a celebrity to possibly outrun the scandal.

But should the Tampa Bay Bucs -- or any team, really -- be interested in the temptation that is Deshaun Watson?

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What's that they say? There is a limit to the number of dragons a knight must slay on his way to rescue the fair maiden? Watson is up to his neck in muck right now, and it's going to be hard for any team to dig him out. On the surface, Watson sounds intriguing -- he's a skilled player, and he's young -- but he has issues.

Is Watson worth the risk? And at what price?

This is an issue because, as you may have heard, Watson indicated two teams -- the Bucs and Vikings -- were interesting to him. Eventually, he will be interested in a lot of teams, more than will be interested in him. That's how deep his troubles are.

Before you answer, consider these factors:

-- There are his legal problems. There are 22 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson alleging sexual misconduct. At a time in his life when Watson should be chasing Tom Brady's legacy, he seems to be stuck on Bill Cosby's. Twenty-two cases are a lot to settle.

-- There are league problems. The NFL so far has stayed away from judgment on Watson's case, but that might not last. A team trading for Watson cannot know how many games he will be allowed to play next year.

-- There are p.r. issues. Whichever team trades for Watson is going to appear to care more about talent than character (at some point, don't they all?). Oh, a three-game winning streak will solve that, of course. Fans are a forgiving lot. Still, they remember, and settling a case is not the same as proving one's innocence.

-- There are payroll issues. The Texans paid Watson $10.5 million not to play last year. This year, that will jump to $35 million. Teams that make blockbuster trades generally don't try to reduce someone's salary. Watson still will be a rich man if you trade for him.

-- There are compensation issues. For some reason, the Texans act like they're in control. That's folly. They have a troubled asset who is due to make a lot of money. They are motivated to sell. Yet, the packages that have been discussed have included three No. 1 draft choices or six players in all. To me, that's silly. I love Watson's talent -- I have since I watched him win a national championship here. But I'm not giving up a fourth of a team's starters for him.

-- There are timing issues. It's amusing the way people scramble when Watson says nice things about your team. But there hasn't been a significant change in the Watson case for months. If the lawsuits are not settled, a pre-trial conference is scheduled for May. Which means that teams who are interested in a new quarterack might still have to wait to determine Watson's availability. They'd have to sit out free agency and the draft and potential trades for other quarterbacks. If Tom Brady sticks to his retirement, the Bucs will need a quaetrback too badly to wait.

So if the Bucs -- or any team -- is interested in Watson, it has to decide Watson can settle his lawsuits, then judge the possible league punishments, then negotiate a price with the Texans, then worry about Watson's contract, then withstand the negative reaction, then hope that a year off doesn't have a negative impact on him.

My advice for the Bucs? Kick the tires. Do the research. Talk to people. Gauge the compensation and the possible league reaction.

But while you're at it, keep looking at alternatives, too. There are a lot more bad ways for this to end than good ones.

Watson should be a possibility, but only that.

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