Many teams are said to have been actively monitoring today’s developments in the court proceedings for Pro Bowl Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams with the biggest need at the quarterback position. But would they be willing to pay the price—in draft capital, in cap space, and in public relations damage—to pursue Watson in a trade?
According to Kimberley A. Martin of ESPN, she has been told that the Steelers are among five teams that she has been told have either been interested in Watson for a while, or who were “closely monitoring today’s grand jury outcome”.
The teams I’ve been told that have been interested in Deshaun Watson for a while — and/or were closely monitoring today’s grand jury outcome:
PHI had expressed interest, but seems to have cooled of late. https://t.co/28CqiuHyAZ
— Kimberley A. Martin (@ByKimberleyA) March 12, 2022
Those are two pretty different things, though one would imagine that if a team is closely monitoring a player’s legal proceedings, it is with the knowledge that they might potentially want to try to acquire said player. The Panthers, Saints, Browns, and Seahawks are the other teams mentioned by Martin, also noting that the Eagles’ interest in Watson “seems to have cooled of late”.
Conversely, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports is reporting that the Steelers “are not going to be a part of Deshaun Watson pursuit”. Of course, it is possible for the Steelers to have been closely monitoring Watson’s court date while also deciding not to pursue trading for him.
The Steelers are not going to be a part of this Deshaun Watson pursuit.
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) March 12, 2022
Ultimately, we don’t know much more, if anything, than we did a week ago regarding Pittsburgh’s potential interest in Watson. There was the earlier Shaun King report in which he stated that the player’s “preferred” destination would be Pittsburgh, but he did not offer that Pittsburgh intended to pursue him.
Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, and he is seeking a team with a strong head coach, a good defense, and a good offensive line. The Steelers would fit two of the three bills, and they could work on the third (the line) this offseason.
It has also been stated that Watson does not plan to rush into any decision and would like to talk with some teams first before making a decision. Of course, it is ultimately up to the Texans to pull the trigger on a trade, but they can only do that with a team for which Watson is willing to waive his no-trade clause.
For what it’s worth, local Browns reporting also indicates that Cleveland is one of the teams that has been monitoring Watson’s case, though it has not determined as of yet whether or not it will attempt to trade for the quarterback.
Still, that lends some credence to Martin’s list, and the Panthers have already previously attempted to acquire Watson via trade—he would not waive his no-trade clause last season. The Seahawks are also widely expected to be interested.
Meanwhile, local Steelers reporters have been steadily and consistently reporting that either the team is not pursuing Watson, or at least that there is no way it’s going to happen. The report from Martin is the first significant national report seeming to connect Pittsburgh with having any interest in Watson at all.
Update: Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network is now also reporting that the Steelers are not expected to be among the teams who will pursue trading for Deshaun Watson. Wilson tends to be among the most reliable with his information in the business. However, that does not mean they haven’t been monitoring his court case, as Martin reported, nor does it mean that they can’t get in the race. But it certainly would not be surprising if they sit this out.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have not and are not expected to be a player in the Deshaun Watson trade market, according to multiple league sources.
— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) March 12, 2022