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Houston Texans ‘slowly moving on’ from star QB Deshaun Watson

The Houston Texans’ decision to sign veteran journeyman Tyrod Taylor earlier in the offseason wasn’t necessarily seen as a harbinger of things to come. The signing might have taken place amid star quarterback Deshaun Watson requesting a trade. But that’s pretty much the extent of it.

Fast forward a couple months, and this is no longer the case. Fresh off using their first selection in the 2021 NFL Draft on former Stanford quarterback Davis Mills, it’s a firm belief around league circle that the Texans are moving on from Mr. Watson.

“Teams I’ve talked to around the league are taking notice that the Houston Texans seem to be slowly moving on from Deshaun Watson because they have their bridge quarterback in Tyrod Taylor and they have their developmental draft pick in Davis Mills, a quarterback I’m told they are very high on with his instincts, his smarts and his big arm,” ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler noted recently (h/t Bleacher Report).

There’s an obvious backdrop to all of this. Rumors of Watson’s discontent with the Houston Texans gave in to a more noteworthy story back in March in which the quarterback was accused of sexual assault. Since then, north of 20 women have come forward in civil cases with similar accusations.

While the legal situation has yet to be settled in civil court, the Houston Police Department has opened up a criminal investigation into the allegations. Meanwhile, Roger Goodell and the NFL has opened its own investigation under the guise of the personal conduct policy.

What should the Houston Texans do with Deshaun Watson?

Have the Houston Texans shown their hand with Deshaun Watson?

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson
Dec 20, 2020; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) during warmups before the game against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Without a selection in each of the first two rounds of the 2021 NFL Draft, Houston surprised the masses by taking Mills at the top of Round 3. While he’s seen as a project, you don’t use that type of draft capital on a quarterback you deem to be nothing more than a backup.

In addition to adding Taylor and Mills to the mix, these Texans traded for former Cincinnati Bengals fourth-round pick Ryan Finley. That’s three new quarterbacks in the mix months after new Houston general manager Nick Caserio pushed back against even the possibility of trading Watson. It could be that Houston is preparing for some action on the NFL’s end when it comes to Watson.

What’s next for Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans?

Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson
Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

It seems to be more than likely that Watson will be placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List later this summer should the legal situation not come to a culmination in the near future. At this rate, there’s no reason to believe Watson’s legal team is going to settle out of court. That will lead to a drawn-out process.

Recent reports have indicated that Watson will likely be suspended by the NFL, even before the legal situation plays out in the Houston area. The league reserves the right to suspend a player without charges having been filed in criminal court or a guilty verdict. That’s another major backdrop here.

Should Watson be cleared of these allegations in time for the start of the 2021 NFL season, there’s now every reason to believe that the Texans will engage in trade discussions with teams. Said market could also be limited after interested teams in that of the San Francisco 49ers (Trey Lance), Chicago Bears (Justin Fields) and New England Patriots (Mac Jones) added quarterbacks in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.