The sweepstakes for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson are expected to heat up once again during the 2022 offseason. After the three-time Pro Bowler sat out the entirety of this last year, his intention to leave the franchise remains the same.
A handful of teams have been involved in discussions for Watson over the last 12 months, including the Miami Dolphins, the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. However, there's reportedly one "sleeper team" that could pursue the 26-year-old this spring.
According to NFL insider and former ESPN analyst Jordan Schultz, the Minnesota Vikings are on franchise that could join the bidding for Watson.
“Sources tell me the biggest sleeper in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes—the Minnesota Vikings,” Schultz said on Take The Points. “The key element here, No. 1, is that Deshaun, who has a no-trade clause, I’m told, would at least consider waiving it to play in Minnesota. Secondly, the Vikings, even without a GM and head coach right now, believe internally that Kirk Cousins is not a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback.”
The Vikings are in the midst of a complete overhaul after another mediocre season in 2021. Minnesota is currently searching for a new general manager and a new head coach, so adding a talented quarterback could be the next piece of the puzzle.
Although the Vikings would surely like to swap out Watson for Kirk Cousins if the opportunity presented itself, it's important to take Schultz's report with a grain of salt. Much remains unknown about how Watson's current legal situation will play out, as he still faces 22 civil lawsuits that contain very serious allegations of sexual misconduct.
Apart from the quarterback's legal matter, the Texans are reportedly continuing to put a high price on any deal for the three-time Pro Bowler. According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, Houston still wants at least five assets, including three first-round picks, in any trade for Watson.
It's hard to believe that the Vikings will want to engage with the Texans on such an expensive deal while the lawsuits against Watson remain outstanding.
Time will tell if Minnesota ramps up its interest in the coming weeks or if the Vikes move ahead with Cousins under center.