You would have been hard-pressed to find anyone who’d say the Houston Texans would win their standoff with star quarterback Deshaun Watson when the whole saga began. Yet, nearly a month since he set the NFL on fire by officially requesting a trade, that’s exactly where we stand. Houston is, and has always been, in the driver’s seat.
Houston Texans in Win-Win Situation with Deshaun Watson
Playing the Long Game
Now, before anyone pulls their hair out trying to list all the ways Watson can make life hell in the locker room and throughout the organization, let’s think that all the way through. There’s only so far Watson can go in showing his displeasure without hurting his own image in the process.
Houston is truly dysfunctional but organizations can undergo facelifts far easier than players.
Just take a look at the Washington Football Team. A team mired in racial and sexual misconduct claims totally revamped its front office, leaned into an already-diverse coaching staff, and dropped the epithet for a name, and voila! Friendly press and a pass for the bumps that come along with a rebuild.
Juxtapose that with the image of Carson Wentz.
It’s easy to write him off as a locker room cancer and coach killer. With the team erecting a statue of his backup that everyone loved, his supposed coddling by upper-management, and just by looking at the rest of the roster, it’s kind of a miracle he lasted in a city so tough as long as he did.
That’s not to excuse Wentz or say the Football Team should be from under the watchful eye. It’s just to show how quick the fall is for players when the rise is so slow. And that the inverse is true for billion-dollar organizations. PR teams will do that for you.
How does this apply to the Texans and Watson?
Houston has done everything wrong for at least the past two seasons, beginning with the trade of DeAndre Hopkins. They replaced him with Will Fuller (who got suspended six games for PED use and is a free agent) and Brandin Cooks; secondary options at best.
The man responsible for that madness and the trade for Laremy Tunsil is gone but the sting remains. Look at Houston’s cap space and draft pick situation.
They’ve hired from the same organization that’s left them spinning their wheels in the New England Patriots for their new general manager in Nick Caserio. But it’s another Boston import, Jack Easterby that’s been the focus of many a fan’s ire.
Even with all of that, including the hiring of a lifelong assistant to be the head coach, Houston can distance themselves from this by winning. That becomes harder to impossible without Watson.
As for their beleaguered quarterback, he’s felt left out of the planning process, something every franchise passer enjoys. But listening to the chatter many feel he’s being a diva.
Those people have never watched the Houston Texans play.
Watson just led the league with a career-high 4823 passing yards and threw 33 touchdowns to just seven interceptions; both career-bests. This while the Texans ground attack, led by the shell of David Johnson (the return in the Hopkins trade), ranked 31st.
Houston’s offensive line, ranked worst in Adjusted Sack Rate by Football Outsiders, allowed the franchise to be sacked 49 times, one fewer time than Wentz’s league-leading 50.
Get this, here’s where Houston can choose how it wants to win this standoff with Watson. That’s right. The team did nothing right while the player has done just about all you could ask for someone in this situation and it’s still the former that can choose their destiny.
They can keep Watson in the fold and spend the next five years making it up to him. That requires solid drafting and free agency signings. Most importantly it means rebuilding the lines of communication, and ultimately the trust, between the franchise and the best player they’ve ever drafted.
Or at least, he’s the most important Texans draft pick ever.
Houston’s other option is the more conventional one. Trade Watson away for a bounty of picks and likely an up-and-coming player or two and begin the rebuild in earnest.
This is also why it might not be as beneficial to Watson to jump ship as some might believe. What good is going to a new team if it’s just been gutted to bring him on? They’ll be right where the Texans were these past two years.
For those wondering about diminishing returns for the Texans, don’t. Every team on his list has the firepower to get him. Not too many teams would pass on a 25-year-old franchise quarterback anyway.
The Houston Texans Will Win Deshaun Watson Showdown
Given how long it took the Texans to find Watson, and by extension relevance, it’s in their best interest to hold onto Watson. But, practically speaking, moving him would allow them to start fresh with little to no expectations, a better cap situation, and replenished draft capital.
Either way, they’ll take a short-term PR “hit” but this too shall pass.
To put it simply, there really isn’t a bad move for the Texans to make here. Keep Watson and have your franchise quarterback in place. Trade him and get a head start on a rebuild that may come with or without Watson.
When it comes to their standoff with Deshaun Watson, It’s a win-win as far as the Houston Texans are concerned