Deshaun Watson has huge issues with the Houston Texans organization and the problems don’t seem to be going away. Now, amid efforts by the front office and ownership to salvage the relationship, the Pro Bowl quarterback may be willing to take the ultimate step to force a trade.
Watson, who recently expressed his frustrations publicly, has been through years of drama with the Texans. From Bill O’Brien trading away the star quarterback’s friend and All-Pro receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, to baffling decisions made by owner Cal McNair and the team’s top decision-makers.
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The Texans already faced major hurdles this offseason. Already operating without a first- or second-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, due to O’Brien’s overpay for Laremy Tunsil, Houston also needed a general manager and head coach. While a GM is now in place, the latest turmoil surrounding Watson could prove costly to this franchise for years to come.
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While the NFL world knew Watson had issues with the Texans’ organization, the divide between the two sides and the severity of damage this relationship has taken wasn’t quite as known. That has changed this offseason, with more reports detailing Houston’s organizational problems and a system of dysfunction that has driven the face of the franchise away.
On Saturday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter provided further spotlight on the turmoil going on in Texas. Specifically, just how angered Watson is by the Texans and how far he is willing to go to bring change to repair years of a losing culture in the building.
Jack Easterby is a big problem for the Texans and he reportedly has been for some time. In December, Sports Illustrated’s Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop detailed how the former New England Patriots’ team pastor obtained power in Houston. He joined the organization in 2019, quickly cleaning house by firing general manager Brian Gaine McNair promoted Easterby to executive vice president of football operations in January 2020.
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Since that time, he has played a major role in plenty of the moves made in Houston. He reportedly undermined fellow team executives, including Bill O’Brien, and was a huge advocate for the ridiculed trade that sent away DeAndre Hopkins. Easterby also left many in the organization feeling like they couldn’t trust him, with some fearing for their jobs and staffers believing players were being surveilled outside the facility.
When O’Brien was fired as head coach and general manager, Easterby took over the interim GM role. However, McNair made a point that he wouldn’t decide who took over the role in 2021 and the next hire could decide Easterby’s fate with the team. Instead, Easterby reportedly flew with McNair to meet with Nick Casero. Days later, to the surprise of Watson and a majority of the Texans’ organization, Caserio was hired as general manager and reunited with Easterby, a personal friend. Then, earlier this week, McNair announced Easterby will remain with the club.
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Watson’s frustrations aren’t just with Easterby. Before the offseason began, McNair informed the franchise star that he would have input in the hiring process for the next head coach and general manager. Watson researched names, providing a list of candidates who he believed would help reshape the team’s culture and players would follow. McNair never looked into any of the recommendations, including Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, frustrating Watson.
While McNair and Caserio have publicly praised Watson since, making attempts to salvage the relationship, hope might be lost for the Texans. That is, unless McNair is no longer the owner. Given that’s unlikely to happen, Watson’s anger with the front office remains and his willingness to use his power could lead to him never suiting up again for Houston.
It’s rare for any player, let alone a star, to be willing to sit out games. However, we’ve seen it before with another top quarterback. Carson Palmer threatened to retire in 2011 if the Cincinnati Bengals didn’t trade him. In October, after sticking to his word, Palmer was traded to the Raiders.
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Sitting out multiple games, even the entire 2021 season, would cost Deshaun Watson millions of dollars. If he’s willing to do it, though, the 25-year-old has plenty in the bank to get by. Before long, the Texans might just have to accept their losses and grant his trade request.