The Texans Need to Trade Deshaun Watson Before Things Get Worse in Houston


The Texans should be looking to trade Deshaun Watson if they aren’t already. (Courtesy of Flickr)

Houston, the Texans have a big problem. And it’s only getting worse. 

After a second 4-12 season in the last four years and frustrations with the organization’s recent operations, franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson is continually pressing his team to trade him out of Houston and has been deploying every tactic necessary to force their hand. 

Tensions began when former head coach and GM Bill O’Brien traded wide receiver Deandre Hopkins — Watson’s biggest offensive weapon — to the Arizona Cardinals. The relationship became irredeemable when the McNair family hired Nick Caserio as the new GM in January without consulting Watson as promised. Adding insult to injury, the Texans also have no first-round pick in the upcoming draft and have parted ways with defensive end JJ Watt, who was close with Watson. 

Throughout the entire debacle, the Texans organization has remained steadfast in its position that it has no intention to trade Watson. Despite plenty of noise around the stalemate — Watson’s camp putting out lists of the quarterback’s preferred destinations, different parties debating ideal packages for a deal and Watson himself saying he has no intention to play another game with the Texans — Houston continues to espouse the decision that they want him in their uniform come September. 

However, this week’s developments are showing that things are getting extremely out of hand, and it might be time for the Texans to cave into Watson’s request. According to ESPN, Watson told new head coach David Culley that he has no intention of suiting up for him or the team again in a meeting between the two last week. In addition, Watson has said that he would consider opting not to report to any team offseason activities or training camps, even at a financial cost to himself. It’s clear Watson is willing to take all necessary measures to find himself with a new organization. 

While the Texans want to buck a trend in sports where big-name athletes accumulate enough power to make the final say on affairs like this one when they are under contract, the flood gates have already been opened, and precedents are now etched in history. It has been a very difficult year for the franchise, and the immediate future doesn’t look like it will be any less challenging. That being said, the team needs a complete reset and moving Watson for assets could be the first step toward promoting the team and their goals. 

As they head into a lengthy rebuild that requires cooperation and commitment from every Texans organization member, keeping a disengaged Watson could serve as a big obstacle for the team. His intentions are not to serve as a leader on what will be a more inexperienced offense. For first-year head coach Culley, it’s not fair to expect him to prove himself and improve the team when a player is not answering his call to give their all.

According to many experts covering the Watson drama, if the Texans want a quarterback that will lead them back to success, there are teams in the league that are willing to deal in a trade. The Jets have Sam Darnold, the Dolphins have Tua Tagovailoa and the 49ers have Jimmy Garoppolo. Watson, according to sources, has had high preferences for the Jets and Dolphins, the former because of new head coach Robert Saleh whom Watson had wanted the Texans to hire. In addition to gaining a quality quarterback, many possible suitors for Watson hold lucrative draft picks, a luxury the Texans do not enjoy, as they traded this year’s first-round pick to Miami for Laremy Tunsil. 

The issue of utmost importance with keeping an unhappy Watson comes down to recruiting free agents. Eventually, the Texans will reach a phase where they will want to pursue free agents to join Houstons’ rebuilding project. Free agents are generally hesitant to sign with teams that are miles away from competing for a championship. However, there is no doubt they will shun teams without a good culture. If Watson sticks around and continues his antics on the sidelines, it will create toxic locker room culture and stain the league’s perception of the Texans. 

The Texans have shown they want to do everything in their power to prevent Watson from leaving the organization in a trade, especially from a financial perspective. Their money concerns are legit. Trading Watson would cost them over $21 million in dead money against the salary cap, given he just signed a four-year, $156 million contract last summer that extends through 2025. They could make money off Watson in fines if he stays and elects to sit out of team activities and games, but that goes back to the issue of bad culture. 

The time to pick up the phone on Watson cannot be delayed any longer. It is not ideal to promote the trend in sports of a star athlete getting what they want—the most recent example of James Harden had critics of that blockbuster trade irritated—but in the end, it will hurt the Texans more than it will help them to keep their walls up. Watson is a pure talent that will elevate any offense, but he doesn’t want to be in Houston anymore. Coming from a New York perspective where teams have lost their talented players due to drama, it’s a tough pill to swallow. 

If the Texans want things to get better in Houston soon, they must trade Deshaun Watson now, or it will become an even harder rescue mission.