Deshaun Watson Attorney Says He Wanted Miami. Dolphins Were Willing to Take a Chance. Here is The Real Reason Why The Trade Broke Down
In a wide ranging, in-depth interview with Deshaun Watson’s attorneys, Sports Radio 610 hosts Seth Payne and Sean Pendergast uncovered Rusty Hardin’s version of what allegedly occurred behind the scenes in run up to the November 2021 trade deadline that almost saw Deshaun Watson traded to the Miami Dolphins.
Hardin revealed that Watson was close to settling a vast majority of the twenty-two cases against him on two occasions, both related to Watson’s football deadlines. The first attempt occurred in April just before the Draft but fell apart because the Plaintiffs wanted confidentiality agreements, according to Hardin. Plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee has contradicted this publicly.
Then in November, in run up to the trade deadline, Hardin says Miami came to the floor and said they were willing to take their chances despite a pending criminal investigation. Hardin says most teams were not willing to consider trading for Watson until they knew what the outcome would be on the criminal side.
“Miami was an outlier,” Hardin said. “Ross says, the owner of Miami says, ‘I’ll take my chances on what happens criminally but I have to have all twenty-two cases settled and a nondisclosure agreement or I won’t do it.'”
Hardin continued, “The coach at Miami was somebody that Deshaun liked. He liked the team. He was just chomping at the bit to get back to football and get all this garbage behind him and so we were told, ‘I want to go to Miami,'” Hardin said.
Hardin claims he was able to get very far with adversary Tony Buzbee, even agreeing to put in everything the Plaintiffs asked for because Watson wanted to go to Miami so badly. Agreements were exchanged. But at the last minute, two of the women refused to settle.
“We were told that twenty of them would, but two would not,” Hardin said. “Ross said if I don’t have all twenty-two signed up and a confidentiality agreement [he wouldn’t do it], cause I don’t want everybody talking about this during the season and after the season.”
Hardin said two more women later changed their mind so the number went down to eighteen women willing to settle. At that point settlement talks were abandoned, since a trade would not be happening. Payne and Pendergast questioned why the legal team wouldn’t still move forward with a settlement with eighteen women just to get the lawsuits behind Watson, who now could face up to two dozen individual trials.
Hardin said they only wanted to settle for football reasons. He described Watson’s desire to go to Miami and play football as the reason they had a “gun” to their heads to settle.
“The only reason we were settling at the time was that was the only way he could get to Miami,” Hardin said. “So if Miami wasn’t going to take him and do the trade unless there’s all twenty-two and all twenty-two didn’t want to settle, then we didn’t want to settle with anybody because we didn’t want to be there to begin with,” Hardin said.
Hardin said Watson is insistent that he didn’t do any of what he’s accused of and says he believes him.
Hardin also told Payne and Pendergast that the Texans have always stayed out of the legal issues. However, the Texans did put restrictions on who Watson could speak with in run up to a trade, because of his no-trade clause. First, they prohibited him from being interviewed by anybody from their Division, claims Hardin. He says that’s why the Indianapolis Colts were not in the mix on the trade front. Second, the Texans said that before they would give Watson permission to even talk to a team about a trade, the team would need to present the Texans with a trade proposal that they would likely accept.
He says four teams spoke to Watson and made proposals only after the criminal investigation concluded and two Grand Juries decided not to recommend charges.
Hardin said all of the teams interested in Watson spoke to him but were not planning to be involved at all in the civil cases. Their main concern was the criminal side of things, whether he would be charged and how the NFL would handle potential discipline. The civil cases could stretch on for years, if they all go to trial.
Hardin said that three of the four teams in the running that made proposals and interviewed Watson were the New Orleans Saints, the Cleveland Browns and the Carolina Panthers. Reports were that the fourth team was the Atlanta Falcons. The Browns ended up offering Watson a deal in excess of 200 million dollars.