Nothing to report is the status of the NFL’s investigation into Deshaun Watson’s alleged off-field conduct, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, describing the league probe into the Houston Texans’ quarterback as “ongoing.”
Watson has been the subject of a legal investigation in Houston with allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct from 22 women who filed civil lawsuits.
Goodell said the NFL continues to gather information while being mindful of not interfering with the police investigation, which remains active.
“Obviously, the police have been investigating, and we don’t have access to all of that information at this point in time,” Goodell said Tuesday at the NFL owner’s meetings. “We pride ourselves on not interfering in that and in being as cooperative as we can in order to get all the facts. I think that process is still ongoing.”
Goodell has authority to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list at any time when, or if, the league determines his status warrants forcing him to be away from the team.
Use of the exempt list isn’t common. Goodell did exercise it to bench then-Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson amid a felony indictment for reckless or negligent injury of his son in 2014. Peterson received his full salary but was barred from all team activities, including workouts and practices.
Prior to that, Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles) and Jonathan Vilma (New Orleans Saints) were “unrostered” using the exemption.
Should the Texans attempt to take action on Watson’s trade demand, the NFL might decide to step in and make a firm decision on making him inactive during the investigation.
To date, league involvement hasn’t been necessary. Watson was inactive for all seven games this season and the Texans are not planning to make him active.
Tuesday is the NFL trade deadline and the Texans are reportedly asking for three first-round picks for Watson.
Watson has a no-trade clause and has only waived it for the Miami Dolphins. Watson reportedly vetoed a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, are reportedly not pursuing a deal for Watson. The Panthers traded for current starter Sam Darnold in the offseason, but benched him during a 25-3 road loss on Sunday to the New York Giants, the team’s fourth straight loss.