By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Deshaun Watson is in the news. For one, he still wants to be traded away from the Texans. The Texans don’t seem to want to do that. It’s a whole thing.

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Secondly, he’s the subject of a new civil lawsuit that alleges sexual assault from a massage in 2020. Watson has denied the charges, and some questions have already arisen about the attorney presenting the case. There’s much to shake out in that regard.

But from a football standpoint, Watson clearly wants to get away from Jack Easterby, Cal McNair, and new GM Nick Caserio. And while the Patriots were not considered a real possibility as a landing spot for Watson (who has a no-trade clause and can thus choose his destination), their recent splurge in free agency might make them a more intriguing landing spot.

One outlet that has been all over this possibility is The Athletic. Joseph Person, who covers the Panthers, wrote about possible trade destinations for Watson. While his story was naturally Panthers-centric, he threw in a nugget that said the Patriots cannot be ignored in any discussion involving Watson.

“One wild card to keep an eye on is New England,” Person wrote. “The Patriots loaded up in free agency with offensive weapons and defensive playmakers, which could make them more attractive to Watson, whose no-trade clause gives him a strong voice in where he ends up. Plus, don’t underestimate Caserio’s ties to New England, where he spent 20 years working with Bill Belichick, including 18 years in player personnel.”

Person’s story linked back to a story from Jeff Howe, who covers the Patriots for The Athletic. Howe laid out how the Patriots could work out a trade for Watson. Howe’s story included two lines that should get some hearts pumping around New England:

“It feels possible the New England Patriots shopped for the groceries before hiring the chef.”

And:

“Remember, Kevin Garnett wouldn’t greenlight a trade to the Boston Celtics until they proved they were serious enough to acquire Ray Allen. Sometimes, the second part of the plan must materialize before the first.”

Howe added one more kicker: “It makes you wonder if this has been their plan all along.”

Mike Silver also threw the Patriots into the mix on NFL Network, saying, “I wonder about the New England Patriots, because as bad as the relationship between, say Jack Easterby and the Kraft family is, Nick Caserio and Bill Belichick could probably get on the phone and have some creative conversations.”

It’s all scintillating stuff. The Patriots figure to be OK with Cam Newton at quarterback, but Deshaun Watson would likely get them back into Super Bowl contention. And with Bill Belichick spending uncharacteristically in free agency, it stands to reason that he could offer up a massive package of picks if it meant landing a player of Watson’s caliber. (Watson’s body of work speaks for itself, but Belichick got an up-close-and-personal view of Watson in consecutive years now. Watson has completed 46 of his 62 passes for 578 yards with 5 TDs and 0 INTs — and a receiving touchdown for good measure — in his past two games against New England. Houston won those games.)

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Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun.

Will it happen? Well, that’s hard to say. It’s a bizarre situation down in Houston, as Cal McNair has seemingly valued Jack Easterby more than he values the franchise quarterback. Those of us who have seen Easterby’s standup routine struggle to understand this, and it seems like Watson is just as perplexed as the rest of us.

As for a trade, well … NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said that teams who have inquired about Watson have either gotten a firm “nope” or no response at all.

Meanwhile The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain said Wednesday that he expects Watson to be traded.

Howe used that tweet to throw this one out there:

And imaginations are just running wild.

All of this is happening after the Texans agreed to a deal with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, one that will pay him a $5.5 million base salary that could grow to $12.5 million with incentives.

Taylor is a capable starting NFL quarterback, and thus, his addition has fueled more intense speculation that the Texans may have begun turning the wheels for a Watson trade.

How any of this shakes out is anybody’s guess. But at the very least, the Patriots have gone from being completely out of the Watson conversation to at-least-sorta-kinda-maybe a possibility to coax the young star out of Houston and into Foxboro.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.