Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans are locked in a stalemate, with the star quarterback demanding a trade and the organization refusing to move him. While this saga is expected to last for months, there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Waston’s issues with the Texans are tied directly to team owner Cal McNair and executive Jack Easterby. Due to a series of moves in recent years, the 25-year-old no longer trusts the organization is headed in the right direction. As a result, following multiple frustrating seasons, he is pushing for a trade.
Under new general manager Nick Caserio and head coach David Culley, there remains a refusal to cave. Star quarterbacks rarely demand a trade in the NFL and get what they want. Houston’s refusal to even engage in discussions, along with recent moves, has only made things worse.
While both sides are digging in their heels, there’s a new update on the trade front that might hint at Deshaun Watson’s future.
NFL rumors: Houston Texans expect to give in, listen to Deshaun Watson trade offers
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington said this week on The Rich Eisen Show that there is a belief within the NFL that Watson will eventually be available for trade and playing for a new team. For now, though, the Texans are willing to wait things out either to create leverage for public relations reasons.
One key date everyone is watching is April 29, when the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft begins. It would be the last opportunity for the Texans to flip Watson for a monster haul that features top picks in a loaded draft class, giving the organization players it can build around immediately.
NFL rumors: Surprise team has top offer for Deshaun Watson
If Houston doesn’t move Watson before the NFL Draft, the situation could get uglier. Coming off an MVP-caliber season, Watson is willing to sit out the 2021 campaign. It could cost him more than $20 million, via fines, lost game checks and the team going after his signing bonus. But, even after a meeting with Culley, Watson is vowing to never play for the Texans again.
Caserio seems just as determined to get his way. Rival general managers have called repeatedly, but those inquiries are ignored as any effort to make an offer is sent to voicemail. After working alongside Bill Belichick for years, Caserio doesn’t want his first move as GM to be trading the face of the franchise.
But the Texans are in a difficult spot. Keeping Watson through the 2021 NFL season, risking an 0-16 season based on the lack of talent on the Texans’ roster, could make things even worse in Houston. The locker room is backing their leader and teammate, while the distrust in McNair and Easterby is shared by many players.
Houston can stick to its hard-line approach right now, but is must also think about its future. This team desperately needs to be rebuilt and that is easier to accomplish with a war chest of multiple first-round picks in each NFL Draft for the next three seasons, plus other draft capital and young talent.
If one side is going to cave first, it will likely be the Texans. They have the most valuable trade asset in recent memory but will lose leverage if Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers ever become available. Whether it happens this offseason or during the regular season, like the Carson Palmer saga, a Deshaun Watson trade needs to happen.