CARDS ON THE TABLE

Finally some real talk about the Watson saga’s most probable resolution

Here's where things stand with the Texans and Watson. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Last Saturday night, I got a call from a media buddy who's usually in the Texans know. He said, "I'm at NRG Stadium and Deshaun Watson could be traded tomorrow to the Miami Dolphins." I hit the Internet and sure enough from reliable sources: talks were heating up for Watson to be traded to Miami for three No. 1 picks and a pair of No. 2's.

The next day, the Dolphins denied a trade was imminent or even being discussed. The online rumor mill backed off. There was nothing brewing on the Deshaun Watson trade front.

So how did the Saturday night trade rumor start? An overeager sports writer looking for clicks? A team other than the Dolphins hoping the rumor, once shot down, would pressure the Texans into lowering their price for Watson? Or maybe it was Watson's camp trying to put a bug in the Dolphins' ear.

You know if you hear something enough times, you start to believe it's true. For example, Twinkies don't stay fresh forever – their shelf life is 45 days. Turkey doesn't have high levels of tryptophan and won't make you drowsy (sorry, Seinfeld). Undercover police working a massage parlor sting don't have to identify themselves as cops before you proposition them and take off your underpants. George Washington did not have wooden teeth. The hardest thing to do in sports is not hitting a 100-mph fastball. Actually, it takes more body control and faster reflexes to avoid getting hit by that pitch.

Here's where it stands with the Texans and Watson and how it likely will play out. If it's true that the Texans are asking for three first and two second-round picks for Watson, that's pie-in-the-sky crazy talk. That would have been a king's ransom in the best of times, before he was accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women. You know the score, 22 civil suits and 10 criminal investigations involving the Houston Police Department and FBI. Also the NFL is conducting its own investigation to see if Watson violated the league's personal conduct policy.

With all the legal turmoil surrounding Watson, there's only one team dumb enough to make such a precious offer for such a flawed player – and Watson already plays for that team.

Seeking three firsts and two seconds for a player facing a mountain of legal issues would be as ridiculous as trading one of the best wide receivers in the NFL for a worn-out, second-string running back and a bag of marbles. OK, bad example.

Ever watch Pawn Stars – you know the show, Rick Harrison, the Old Man, Big Hoss and Chumlee running a pawn shop in Las Vegas?

A guy walks in carrying an original handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence. Harrison asks the guy, how much are you looking to get out of this?" The guy says, "This is an incredible artifact of American history. The document and all the signatures have been authenticated by the U.S. National Archives. It's been in my family since 1776. It's the real thing and I'm asking $500 million for it." The negotiation begins.

Harrison: "It's an incredible item, but look at the edges, they're yellow and frayed. And I'm going to have to get this framed, which will cost me money. If you had brought this in last year, I would have given you the $500 million. But I'll be honest, John Hancock doesn't sell like he used to. I'll give you $100 for it."

The guy says, "I was looking for $500 million but I guess a hundred bucks is fair. I need to get a new tire for my truck. You got a deal, let's shake on it."

That's how it is with Watson. If the Texans had offered him in a trade last year …

Now Watson is on the Texans 53-man roster but will be inactive each week until he's placed on the commissioner's exempt list, or suspended, or a trade is consummated or his legal problems vanish and he's cleared of all accusations. He really hasn't practiced with the Texans offense in training camp and didn't play in any pre-season games. Unlike Dirty Dancing, the Texans did put baby in a corner.

Watson reportedly has put the kibosh on a trade to Philadelphia, a team that has the draft capital to meet the Texans demands.

Philadelphia media says no thanks to Watson anyway. Watson saying no to the Eagles is like Pee-Wee Herman insisting the only acting job he'll accept is playing Hamlet. And the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon says, uh, were we asking you?

A doomsday return might be two firsts and two seconds. The Texans would be smart to shake on it. Depending on how the wheels of justice grind, there could come a time when the Texans call teams dangling a bargain trade, and all they hear back is, in the words of Michael Corleone in Godfather 2, "My offer is this, nothing."

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After Texans DE Charles Omenihu voiced his support for Deshaun Watson this week, ESPN Houston's John Granato and Josh Jordan discuss how the Texans handling of the Watson saga will have big implications on their organizational reputation. Plus, how Omenihu and Watson sharing the same agent could make this tricky moving forward.

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