A Harris County grand jury is reportedly being used to determine whether criminal charges will be brought against Watson. The NFL perhaps would reconsider its stance and place Watson on paid leave if he’s charged with a crime.
The league has said it is conducting its own investigation. Under the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Commissioner Roger Goodell is empowered to place Watson on paid leave if he’s charged with a felony or “a crime of violence,” or if Goodell believes that such a move is warranted based on the findings of the league’s investigation.
The paid leave provision is designed to give the NFL time to determine whether to impose penalties, including a potential unpaid suspension, under the personal conduct policy. If Watson is placed on paid leave, he would be ineligible for practices and games but would continue to be paid his $10.5 million salary for this season by the Texans.
The Texans are scheduled to face the Jacksonville Jaguars in Houston in their season opener Sunday. Coach David Culley has named Tyrod Taylor the team’s starter at quarterback and the Texans have ruled out Watson for Sunday’s game. He was listed on the team’s injury report as a nonparticipant in this week’s practices and is expected to be placed on the game-day inactive list.
Watson avoided mandatory daily fines of $50,000 during training camp by reporting to the Texans in July. But he did little during training-camp practices and did not participate in preseason games. The three-time Pro Bowl selection requested a trade from the Texans, before the allegations against him became public.
But the Texans have not complied with Watson’s trade request to this point and are said to remain intent upon receiving a handsome package of lofty draft picks in any deal. That remains unlikely as long as Watson’s legal issues are unresolved and his playing status remainsmurky. The NFL could act on the paid-leave issue if Watson were to be traded to a team with more immediate plans to put Watson on the field.