The Dolphins wanted quarterback Deshaun Watson, but they wanted him only if he would settle the 22 civil lawsuits alleging that he committed sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions. An effort to settle the cases was made, but it ultimately didn’t succeed.
It’s unclear whether the settlements failed because the trade didn’t happen, or whether the inability to finalize a trade kept the settlements from being finalized.
Regardless, the cases remain in place. On Tuesday, attorney Tony Buzbee (who represents the 22 plaintiffs) addressed the situation in comments to Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston.
“Obviously, there was a lot of effort on their part to get the case settled so there could be a trade apparently,” Buzbee said. “I’m assuming at some point that will come about again. Time is on my side. I’m just gonna continue to pursue the case, continue to do my due diligence on the case and start preparing the case for hopefully a trial. The next significant event, I believe, will be February when we have the opportunity to take Mr. Watson’s deposition.”
Buzbee also seemed to dispute the longstanding notion that he wanted a confidentiality agreement, and that Watson wanted transparency.
“I don’t know if it came from Watson or if it came from the Dolphins,” Buzbee said. “I don’t know where it came from, but there was an insistence of a very, very robust non-disclosure agreement and we pushed back on that very hard. For some of the women that was the dealbreaker.
Again, when the talks broke down earlier this year, it was explained that Buzbee wanted secrecy and Watson did not. So either that wasn’t the case or Buzbee is acting he didn’t want it, because Watson now does.
Here’s Buzbee’s comments, for example, to SI.com from May: “Any resolution we would want confidential, and it would also require Mr. Watson getting some counseling.”
The bottom line is that the Dolphins wanted the civil cases settled before they would trade for Watson. The Panthers weren’t insisting on settlement of the civil cases, but that wasn’t enough to get Watson to want to play for that team. He wanted to play for the Dolphins.
He still may. His no-trade clause allows him to decline a trade to any team but the Dolphins. And his $35 million salary for 2022 is fully guaranteed.
Thus, while time is on Buzbee’s side as to the lawsuits, time is on Watson’s side as to the Texans. Depending on how the next four months unfold, the Texans may regret not trading him while they could. Depending on how the next four months unfold, the Dolphins may regret not trading for him while they could.