Many have asked when and if the NFL will place Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson on the Commissioner Exempt list. The easy answer — and the right one — is that the league won’t even consider it until it has to.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the league hasn’t made a decision about Watson because it doesn’t have to make a decision about Watson. With the Texans content to pay him to not play and with Watson content to not play and get paid for it, the NFL has no reason to do anything about it. He’s already on paid leave.
It’s a lesson the NFL learned through past mistakes. Taking action always puts the league in a position to make a mistake. Taking no action leads to no mistakes, at least not those of commission.
And that’s the other side of this one. If/when the Texans trade Watson, the league will have to look at whether he should be placed on paid leave. That’s a risk that Watson’s new team would be assuming, along with everything else arising from 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct during massage therapy sessions and the 10 criminal complaints arising therefrom.
The league, as the source reiterated, doesn’t tip its hand when it comes to what it may or may not do when it comes to the placement of players on paid leave or the potential imposition of discipline. Thus, for the Dolphins or anyone else, it’s another major factor that the team that would be trading for Watson needs to consider. Once he prepares to play, the NFL will then decide whether to make a decision about whether to let him play.