Deshaun Watson isn’t happy with the Houston Texans and trade rumors surrounding the NFL superstar could grow louder following a new report detailing alarming issues within the Texans’ organization.
Watson signed a massive contract extension with Houston this past offseason, even after the disastrous trade that sent away All-Pro receiver and close friend DeAndre Hopkins. Despite Bill O’Brien finally being out of the building, fired after an 0-4 start and a reported clash with J.J. Watt, the Texans’ problems seem to be getting worse.
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Unfortunately for Houston, it could be the driving force behind one of the NFL’s best players demanding a trade.
Deshaun Watson reportedly wants out due to Texans’ continued dysfunction
The first sign of Watson’s displeasure with the organization started early in the offseason. Watson was reportedly promised by team owner Cal McNair to be involved in the search for a head coach and general manager.
Instead, McNair ignored Watson’s recommendations and didn’t even listen to the search firm the team hired. While Korn Kerry recommended Pittsburgh Steelers VP of football and business administration Omar Khan and ESPN analyst Louis Riddick to become the next general manager, McNair hired Nick Caserio. Watson learned about the hiring on social media.
Watson, coming off a season that saw him lead the NFL in passing yards (4,823) and finishing with the second-highest quarterback rating (112.4), also encouraged the Texans to interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy. Houston could have talked to him during Kansas City’s bye week. Instead, they were the only team with a head-coach opening not to interview Bieniemy.
It wasn’t until this week, after Watson’s frustration with the organization became public, that the Texans finally submitted an interview request for Bieniemy. But, the start of the divisional round means coaches on contending teams must wait until they are eliminated before meeting with teams.
The 25-year-old quarterback is angered by McNair backing out on his promise, especially since Watson wanted to be involved so he could provide a voice for the entire locker room. He also took issue with the team being largely silent on social justice issues, which are important to Watson.
Despite his frustration, McNair tried to ease the tension publicly and rumors of a trade were shot down. However, things seem to be getting even worse. As part of an in-depth exposé by Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bishop and Jenny Vrentas, a person close to Watson said the quarterback “just wants out.”
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Watson has the option to force a trade, but it may be costly financially. The NFL’s new collective bargaining agreement has stiff penalties for any player who holds out during training camp and games. He could threaten to do that, even taking it as far as to refuse to play for the Texans, which would force the organization’s hand.
Jack Easterby’s role in Texans’ issues
While Bill O’Brien used to be a key part of the team’s problems, there may be an even bigger issue with executive Jack Easterby. Since joining the organization in 2019, he has seemingly burned a lot of bridges with staff and both current and former players.
Cal McNair hired Easterby away from the New England Patriots in 2019. A former pastor, he quickly gained more authority in the organization. Just months into the job, Easterby fired general manager Brian Gaine. By January 2020, Easterby was promoted to vice president of football operations.
Easterby played a major role in the Hopkins’ trade, which is now remembered as one of the worst deals in NFL history. He also made the call to fire O’Brien, which allowed him to become interim general manager.
McNair stated that Easterby wouldn’t retain the role in 2021 and the club’s next general manager would determine if he remained with the organization. Yet, per Sports Illustrated, Easterby skipped exit interviews with players to fly with McNair for a secret interview with Caserio.
In December, Sports Illustrated reported on Easterby’s sudden climb to power. Many in the organization are skeptical of him, citing issues with mistrust and chaos. Players even compared him to Littlefinger, a character in Game of Thrones, operating as a power-hungry schemer and using tricks to manipulate people.
Related: 5 reasons why a Deshaun Watson trade to the Patriots makes sense
Since that story came out, fans have turned against Easterby and demanded his removal from the organization. Reportedly fearing his job was in jeopardy, he started telling people with the Texans that he would sue Sports Illustrated for defamation and that it granted him access to the sources’ names, which is untrue.
Even more alarming, per Sports Illustrated, Easterby believes the negative stories about him are the result of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft paying people to lie. He even claimed that Kraft funded SI to report its original story on Easterby. Meanwhile, Easterby spent recent days begging players to convince Watson that he should be trusted.
Needless to say, the Houston Texans are a mess. Given everything going on within the organization, Deshaun Watson might not be the only player who wants out.