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Vikings one of six teams reportedly interested in Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans
Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) throws a pass against the Tennessee Titans during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings are one of  six teams that have made inquiries to the Houston Texans about quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Wilson reported Saturday — a day after a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, declined to indict Watson on criminal charges — that the Carolina Panthers, Seattle Seahawks, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints also have checked on Watson’s availability.

Watson, 26, was accused of 10 criminal complaints for sexual misconduct and inappropriate behavior by massage therapists. He still faces 22 civil lawsuits related to the case. It remains to be seen just how interested new Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah and coach Kevin O’Connell are  in Watson and what type of reaction they would face if they decided to trade for him.

Here’s what Wilson wrote about Watson and the Vikings:

The Minnesota Vikings have expressed interest in Watson despite the presence of quarterback Kirk Cousins, according to sources. Cousins, who has the largest salary cap figure in the NFL, is potentially available via a trade for the right price.

The Vikings appear to be an attractive potential destination for Watson given the presence of wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen and running back Dalvin Cook.

Watson, who asked out of Houston after the 2020 season, had signed a four-year contract, $160 million contract extension in September 2019. The deal includes a no-trade clause, meaning Watson would have to agree to go to his new team. He also has a $40.4 million salary cap hit for 2022.

The 12th pick in the 2017 draft out of Clemson, Watson made the Pro Bowl for three consecutive seasons before sitting out in 2021.

The Vikings, meanwhile, remain uncertain about Cousins’ future with the league year set to start on Wednesday. The Vikings need to be in compliance with the salary cap at that point. They are currently $15 million over it. Cousins’ cap hit for 2022 will be $45.167 million. That is second among quarterbacks to Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers, but once his new contract is signed that cap number will dip and Cousins will be atop this list.

The Vikings would save $35 million to the cap for 2022, if they can trade the veteran. There have been talks of an extension for Cousins, a move that would enable the Vikings to lower his cap hit for the coming season, but so far the sides haven’t been able to agree on a deal and the clock is ticking.