HOUSTON – On January 28, 2021, it was announced that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson had requested a deal.
Much has changed with the situation in the last year.
On March 16, 2021, the first 23 civil suits alleging sexual assault and indecent conduct by Watson were filed. Twenty-two of the lawsuits are still ongoing, with Watson and his legal team denying any wrongdoing.
Ten women – eight of whom have filed civil suits – have filed complaints with the Houston Police Department. Filings have begun, but Watson cannot be impeached before February 22. Tony Busby, plaintiffs’ attorney, He told FOX 26 This week, he plans to take Watson’s quotes as of February 24.
And from the team’s perspective, after David Cooley was fired last week, the Texans are looking for their second coach since the quarterback expressed his displeasure.
At his end-of-season press conference, Texas State General Manager Nick Caserio said he “doesn’t think there is more clarity today.” [on Watson’s legal situation] than it was here before.”
“But we’ll work it out,” Caserio said. “In the end, we will do what we feel is best for the organization.”
Where is Watson’s trade order position and is there a possibility that he will play for Texas again? Now that the season is here for Houston, let’s take a look.
How did Watson and Texas get here?
It all started a little over a year ago, when Watson announced he was unhappy with the Texas process of hiring Caserio. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Watson provided input, but the organization did not take into account the GM candidates he endorsed.
At the end of the 2020 season, Watson said he believed the organization needed a “complete cultural shift”. Caserio spent 20 seasons in New England. Former coach and general manager Bill O’Brien has been with the Patriots for five years.
After learning about Caserio’s hire on Twitter, Schefter reported that Watson requested a deal. Of course, the trade was complicated by the fact that Watson had signed a four-year contract worth $156 million less than six months ago. Caserio and Culley have made it clear that they do not intend to trade Watson.
But the conversation about Watson turned in mid-March, when the first 23 lawsuits were filed. Watson’s attorney, Rusty Harden, released a statement denying Watson had committed a crime.
“Any allegation that Deshawn forced a woman to commit a sexual act is completely false,” Hardin said.
Harden later said that any alleged sexual encounters between Watson and any of the plaintiffs were consensual.
The NFL has opened an investigation into the lawsuits, and the Texans said in a statement that they will remain in close contact with the NFL during this investigation.
Watson was not traded prior to the NFL Draft and did not appear at volunteer team activities organized in Texas in the spring. Since Culley canceled the mandatory minicamp in June, Watson was not fined.
As spring and summer continued, Caserio’s attitude shifted from, “We have no interest in the player’s trading,By saying that Texans would do what was best for the organization.
Watson went to training camp in July to avoid the $50,000 daily fine that would be imposed if he refused. Watson participated in some bootcamp practices, but only in individual reps and not group exercises. Business talks continued during training camp as Caserio was reported to be looking for a pool of six players and derivatives in exchange for the quarterback.
Watson has not been suspended by the NFL or the Texans and has spent the entire season on the Texans active roster. He earned his base salary of $10.5 million for not playing for Houston.
The Texas and Miami Dolphins were in trade talks before the deadline, but the talks eventually stalled, in part due to legal issues unresolved by Watson.
What has changed since the trade was not executed by the trade deadline?
Other than Watson’s legal status, from a footballing perspective, it became difficult for the team to trade their midfield once the season started. Adding an off-season midfielder is one thing when he has time to learn your attack and you can plan around him. It’s another thing to do it in early November.
It also wasn’t clear to any team trading with Watson whether NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell would decide to put him on the exemption list if he tried to play.
Another difference from the Texas perspective is that draft positions are now set. It’s more certain to trade for example the No. 5 or No. 6 pick in 2022 than to risk trading Watson midseason and that greatly affects the selection. For an example of how serious that difference is — even though the Dolphins don’t have their pick in the first round of 2022 — the Texans traded Watson to the Dolphins in early November, before the trade deadline, Miami was 1-7 and in line for top pick. Even without a trade for Watson, the Dolphins have won eight of their last nine matches and finished with the 15th pick. Miami replaced the pick with the Philadelphia Eagles ahead of the 2021 draft.
Watson’s salary has also changed. In 2021, Watson was playing in the final year of his rookie deal, with his base salary being $10.5 million. In 2022, that jumped to $35 million, and in March, his $20 million salary and $17 million on the 2023 roster are fully guaranteed.
Although Texans kept Watson on their roster last season, doing so again in 2022 has become prohibitively expensive. Houston already has $35.4 million in dead money. If Watson stays on the active list again in 2022, that will effectively be $74.4 million in dead money. Watson currently accounts for 27.58% of Houston’s projected cap for 2022.
Could the Texans change Watson’s mind about hiring their head coach?
One reason this question was asked is Watson’s desire to be traded with dolphins. Miami sacked coach Brian Flores, whom Watson wanted to play with and the Texans gave an interview last week.
Never say “no,” but sources say the Texans don’t expect hiring any coach to change Watson’s mind. The quarterback’s dissatisfaction with the organization came before Culley’s appointment and has something to do with the ownership and front office, not the coaching staff.
Caserio also addressed the matter directly when it appeared on Sports Radio 610. When asked if the potential hiring of Flores could lead to Watson’s survival, he replied, “It probably won’t.”
When can trade occur?
Texans can agree to a trade for Watson at any time, but it can’t be made official until 4 p.m. ET on March 16, the start of the league’s new year.
Watson previously agreed to waive the Dolphins’ no-trade clause, but may be forced to open up to other teams this off-season for a deal.
Where is Watson’s legal position?
Civil cases are still being considered, but can be settled if both parties agree to do so. If the lawsuits are not settled, a pre-trial hearing is scheduled for early May, according to court documents.
It remains to be seen if Watson will face criminal charges. Last month, search warrants showed Watson under investigation for indecent assault, a misdemeanor charge in Texas.
Hardin said he does not expect Watson to speak to NFL investigators until after the criminal investigation is over. Watson has not been suspended or placed on the commissioner’s exemption list, and the NFL may not make a decision on whether to suspend Watson until his legal status — including a criminal investigation — is resolved.