Deshaun Watson recently posted a video of his preparations for the 2021 football season. This suggests that he believes he’ll play football this year.
His optimism also shows up in the specific plans being made for the litigation of the 22 lawsuits filed against him.
The “agreed docket control order” in the cases, which was signed by the presiding judge on May 10, provides that Watson’s sworn deposition won’t be taken before February 22, 2022. That’s nine days after the next Super Bowl is played.
As a practical matter, this ensures that the lawsuits won’t interfere with his football career until the coming season has ended. That becomes irrelevant, of course, if the NFL places him on paid leave pending the resolution of the cases.
So here’s the question: Does the engineering of the deposition schedule arise from confidence within Watson’s camp that he won’t be placed on paid leave? In other words, do Watson and his lawyers/agents believe he’ll be permitted to play this year?
Deposition of the plaintiffs may be taken as of September 13, 2021. With 22 plaintiffs to be questioned, more than a month of business days will be needed to finish all of them. Other fact witnesses likely will be questioned, including (but perhaps not limited to) reins and family members to whom the plaintiffs may have made comments relevant to the situation.
No specific trial date has been set. The pre-trial discovery process ends on March 25. A pre-trial status conference, during which the trial date likely will be set, is scheduled for May 2, 2022.
A settlement can happen at any time. If there’s no settlement before training camp opens, Watson will have to decide whether to show up (prediction: he will), the Texans will have to decide whether to trade him (they currently have five on the roster), and other teams will have to decide whether to make the deal despite the looming possibility of paid leave.