McClain says eight teams had shown interest in putting together a trade package for Watson and Texans GM Nick Caserio planned to hold an auction with the draft imminent for a massive haul of picks that would jump-start their rebuilding process.
The list included the Jets, Dolphins, Panthers, Broncos, 49ers, Patriots, Bears and Washington, per McClain.
McLain outlines Caserio’s plan to get the most serious teams into a bidding war that ideally would have ended in an offer that included three first-round picks, two second-round picks and a defensive starter and would have been approved by owner Cal McNair.
Instead, Watson faces an uncertain future after being accused of sexual harassment, assault and impropriety by 22 women he hired for massages who are filing civil lawsuits. Both the NFL and the Houston police have open investigations.
Unless a team is willing to take a chance on Watson’s legal issues, McClain expects him to still be on the Texans’ roster after the draft.
Watson, 25, was taken in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft out of Clemson by the Texans. He signed a four-year, $13.854 million with the Texans that included a fifth-year option around $17.3 million for the 2021 season.
The Texans signed Watson to a four-year deal worth as much as $177 million heading into the 2020 season, paying him $39 million a year.
In 2020, Watson appeared in all 16 games for the Texans and completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He also rushed for 444 yards and three touchdowns.
We’ll have more on Watson as the news is available.