As is typical with cases of this magnitude, the lawsuit against Deshaun Watson won’t be settled for months. According to ProFootballTalk, a recent court filing means his deposition won’t take place until after Super Bowl LVI next year.
Mike Florio reports that the judge presiding over the case signed the “agreed docket control order” on May 10. It provides that Watson’s sworn deposition won’t come until Feb. 22, 2022 at the earliest.
Super Bowl LVI, the final game of the 2021-22 NFL season, is scheduled for Feb. 13 at the Los Angeles Rams’ SoFi Stadium.
As a result, there is a chance that Watson could play this coming season. There are plenty of unanswered questions from the quarterback, the Houston Texans, and the NFL that we need resolved first, of course.
Deshaun Watson's deposition won't happen before Super Bowl LVI, which raises the question of whether Watson and his lawyers believe he'll be able to play in 2021, even without a settlement of the 22 pending lawsuits. https://t.co/ZLgBV5ZQ8F
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 21, 2021
Before 22 women came forward to accuse Deshaun Watson of sexual misconduct—two of whom allege that the quarterback sexually assaulted them after hiring them as massage therapists—he made months of headlines for a different reason. Watson and his representation made it very clear that he will not play for the Texans again, and looked to force a trade from the team.
Before the accusations, the Texans publicly maintained that Watson was their quarterback, though it has been reported that they were prepared to entertain significant trade offers weeks ahead of the NFL Draft. A quarterback like Watson, who is considered one of the best in the league at just 25 years old, is basically never available on the trade market. He may have commanded three or four first-round picks. Recent Instagram videos posted by Watson showed him working out in preparation for the season, so he seems to be getting ready to play.
The current situation could mean Watson backs away from his trade demand, at least until the lawsuit is resolved in some manner. At the same time, it may also mean that the Texans are more willing to part with him, after adding four new quarterbacks this offseason.
And finally, there is no guarantee that the NFL will let Watson, who has significant accusations levied against him, play in 2021. The league could place him on the commissioner’s exempt list pending resolution to the case, and he could be suspended for conduct detrimental to the league.
All of those factors indicate that it is unlikely that we see Watson play this fall, but it is still too early to know for sure.