Star quarterback Deshaun Watson has officially requested to be traded away from the Houston Texans, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The 25-year-old 2017 first round pick signed a four-year contract extension worth $177.5 million with the franchise last summer.
Reports have surfaced since the end of the NFL’s regular season that Watson has grown increasingly frustrated with the organization after owner Cal McNair failed to consult with him over the appointment of a new general manager, despite promising to do so.
The Texans eventually hired Nick Caserio, who had been with the New England Patriots in various roles since 2001.
“So before we take some questions, which I’m sure there’s a few out there, I just want to address a couple things here quickly before we get started. So organizationally, just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson,” Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio told reporters at new head coach David Culley’s opening press conference.
“He’s had a great impact on this organization, a great impact on a lot of people, a great impact on this team, and we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring once we get started. And we have zero interest in trading the player. We have a great plan, a great vision for him and for this team and his role on our team and we look forward opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring. We’ll take some questions, David (Culley) and I will take some questions, and we’ll go from there.”
According to ESPN’s Chris Mortenson, Watson was not only displeased with how his wishes were ignored in the general manager/head coach hiring process, but also about what he perceives as the Texans’ insensitivity to social justice.
The search firm hired by Texans owner Cal McNair recommended two minority candidates for the general manager role. Electing not to interview the highly rated Eric Bienemy, McNair instead chose to hire a white man who had not been recommended and did not even tell his quarterback Watson of the decision, leaving the Pro Bowl signal caller to find out via social media.
“The best way that you handle relationships is to communicate and be honest and be forthright, and we’re going to do that with everybody that’s in this building, from equipment to training staff to coaching staff to personnel to players. And this is kind of the initial stages of our program,” Caserio said when asked how he and Culley planned to salvage the relationship with Watson.
“This is the first day for David, and we’re going to spend a lot of time together here, obviously, over the next few days. There’s a number of things that we’re going to address and that we’re going to tackle. I would say in the interim, staff construction will be at the forefront of that. So, like anything, it’s going to be through hard work, it’s going to be through honest communication, and we’re going to do the right thing by people because that’s what we believe in.”
The Watson-Texans issue is almost unprecedented in NFL history because of Watson’s age, talent and strong desire to leave. Naturally, a large trade haul would be required for the Texans to move on from Watson and there are not too many franchises in a position to offer enough capital.
Potential destinations, however, include the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins. According to the Miami Herald, these two are Watson’s preferred landing spots. The Jets have Darnold and the second overall pick in this year’s draft to include in a deal, while the Dolphins have Tua and a myriad of early picks, owing to previous dealings with Houston.
“When you’re in a position, organizationally, there’s a million decisions you have to make on a daily basis. So is there going to be a number of things that come up? I would say today, moving forward,” Caserio continued when asked of the importance on getting the decision on Watson correct.
“I think one thing that’s pretty consistent when you look at the NFL, and especially where we are, kind of organizationally, there’s a lot of transition that’s taking place from front office to coaching staff and there’s going to be some player decisions that we’re going to have to make. So, I think right now we’re just going to take it one day at a time, focus on what we can control and what we can handle. Today, the day is about David (Culley) and once we get through here today with David, the next thing we’ll turn to is staff construction and we’re going to spend as much time as possible on that and what the vision is for the team and what the staff has in mind as well. So, we’re just going to take it one day at a time and just try to make good decisions one day at a time and do what we think is best for the organization.”