With the trade deadline just a few days away, the Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins have been in contact recently, and both sides are open to a deal centered around Deshaun Watson prior to Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. ET, sources say.
It has essentially been this way for several weeks. A potential Watson deal remains one of the more complicated in recent memory, which may explain why it has lingered unfinished for months.
While there is some urgency on all sides to get a deal done, it has to be the right deal for all for it to happen. Any deal would likely include three first-round picks as part of the compensation.
Owner Cal McNair and general manager Nick Caserio have stayed in constant communication throughout the process, and sources say ownership has given Caserio full support to handle the situation in whatever way he views is in the best interests of the Texans organization.
If he is traded, Watson should be immediately eligible. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said last week the league does not have the necessary information to place Watson on the Commissioner Exempt List, and that should remain the case for the foreseeable future. Watson is currently facing 22 pending civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and misconduct, along with an additional criminal investigation. He has maintained his innocence and not been charged with a crime. His legal situation remains unresolved.
Watson also has a no-trade clause, and he has only waived it for the Dolphins, his preferred location. Coach Brian Flores has been supportive of his current quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa.
Last week, the Panthers pulled out of any trade talks, with the high price tag and inability to sit down and get to know Watson as a person among the reasons. They could revisit this offseason if he's not traded on Tuesday.
Essentially, it's the Dolphins or no one right now.
It has been a long road for the Texans, with Caserio dealing with Watson's unhappiness immediately upon taking the job and his trade request shortly thereafter. A long road for McNair, with his organization firmly in the spotlight for reasons not having to do with winning football games.
While at a Founder's Day event in conjunction with the Texans' charities, McNair said Caserio and coach David Culley have "made the very best" of the situation and that he has been pleased with how they've worked through it.
After months of buildup, Tuesday's deadline provides the biggest date yet for the long-anticipated deal.
Here are some other players to watch as Tuesday looms:
- Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox: Teams have been contacting the Eagles about Cox, figuring they could take a run at him to see if they could get him for a mid- to late-round pick. On the heels of Cox airing grievances about the defense, teams have reacted. Cox is one of the core veterans GM Howie Roseman wants around, so he's unlikely to part with him for anything less than a high pick.
- Dolphins wide receiver DeVante Parker: Parker has battled injuries, but should be back on the field today. Due the balance of a $7.75 million base salary, Parker is experienced and, if he stays healthy, could be a productive playmaker. Teams have inquired about him with Miami.
- Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton: The Giants receivers have dealt with endless injuries, but if they are all healthy, there may not be enough footballs to go around. Slayton may be most attractive to teams because he's only due the rest of his $850,000 salary.
- Texans wide receiver Brandin Cooks: Teams have called about Cooks, and those likely increased after his dissatisfaction with the trading of good friend Mark Ingram. But the productive Cooks is the kind of player the Texans want to build around, not trade. Don't expect him to be available. Caserio is always open to discussing a deal, but doesn't sound like one for Cooks will happen.
- Broncos defensive back Kareem Jackson: GM George Paton will always answer the phone, and he has a few veteran DBs who have drawn interest. Last week it was Kyle Fuller. This week, Jackson. It would take a strong offer to pry him from Denver, but Jackson is not off limits.
- Colts defensive lineman Kemoko Turay: The former second-rounder has been the subject of trade calls, as Indy appears open to trimming its payroll at depth spots on the offensive and defensive lines. Turay has shown flashes, and perhaps a change of scenery would help him reach his potential.
- Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson: We told you Friday that Jackson has permission to seek a trade, and it seems the team is open to it. They have allowed the speedster to find a team that can make better use of his talents and give him the playing time to do so.
- Here are the names discussed last week, including Melvin Ingram, L.J. Collier and others.
NFL Network reporters Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo contributed to this article.
Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.