Can Texans, Dolphins complete a Deshaun Watson deal?

The spirit is willing, but the flesh may be too dysfunctional.

As explained the other day, the question of whether Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson will be traded to the Dolphins depends on whether the two teams can find a way to land the plane. Watson’s legal situation becomes a complicating factor, especially since (as previously reported), the Dolphins want the 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions to be settled.

Put simply, the cases will settle and Watson will become a Dolphin, or the cases won’t settle and he’ll stay put.

As reported during Football Night in America, the Dolphins and Texans were closing in on a trade early last week, and Watson also was working toward settling the 22 lawsuits. The Texans then caught wind of that, and the price for a trade went up. With no deal in place, the Texans had the right to change the terms — especially if the Texans were considering softening their demands based on the legal uncertainty. With the Dolphins and Watson working to resolve the civil side of the uncertainty, the Texans had less reason to relent.

That same dynamic could play out for the 22 plaintiffs. If lawyer Tony Buzbee senses that Watson has extra motivation to settle because the trade to Miami hinges on a global happening, Buzbee could put his thumb on the scale.

Progress had been made earlier this year on a potential settlement, with talks breaking down on whether the terms would be confidential. Watson wanted transparency, an unusual demand from the party ultimately writing the check. If Watson wants to settle the cases, he presumably needs to yield on that point. Still, nothing prevents Buzbee from asking for more money.

The biggest impediment to a deal continues to be Houston’s demands. Maybe it’s just a matter of someone blinking between now at 4:00 p.m. ET. Even if the Texans bend, the Dolphins may insist on some sort of term sheet or agreement in principle between the lawyers handling the civil cases before pulling the trigger.

Plenty of things need to happen to make a trade officially happen by 4:00 p.m. ET. It’s fair to wonder whether these two specific teams have the ability to properly pull it all off — up to and including making a timely and appropriate communication of the final terms of the trade to the league, with no accidental (or “accidental”) snafus that keep both sides from properly inserting their keys and turning them.

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