Taking a look at Deshaun Watson’s options

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans
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Given the flurry of reports regarding the current unhappiness of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, it makes sense to take a look at the player’s option.

It also makes sense to look at his options because, frankly, there’s fire beneath the thickening smoke. Although the Texans are trying to downplay the severity of the situation, things currently aren’t good. And although Watson hasn’t asked for a trade yet, it should surprise no one if he does.

So if Watson officially asks to be traded and the Texans, who surely will be hearing from potentially interested teams that have heard enough to make a phone call, decline to move him, what can Watson do?

He can launch a P.R. campaign aimed at getting them to change their minds. If Watson, who surely would be more measured and less inflammatory than Antonio Brown two years ago, makes his desires known in a calm and rational way, he may find plenty of public support. Even Texans fans may hear him out and not be particularly upset, given the overall dysfunction currently engulfing the organization — and in light of the team’s apparent bait-and-switch willingness to let Watson have a voice in this offseason’s major hires.

The Texans can continue to refuse, but if it becomes more and more clear that Watson wants out, the Texans inevitably will get more and more offers for the balance of his contract. The Texans can shout no and no and no and no and all it takes is for Houston to whisper yes once.

If nothing happens before the start of the offseason program, Watson can disengage. While some will say that, when it comes down to it, Watson will do whatever he needs to do in order to be great when the season begins, Watson seems like a guy who doesn’t play games or make idle threats. If he’s done with the Texans and determined to get out, it should surprise no one if he stays away from the offseason program.

And good luck getting ready for the 2021 season with a new coach and no starting quarterback present.

Watson also could boycott training camp. Yes, it would cost him $50,000 per day under the 2020 CBA. Yes, the 2020 CBA also prevents the team from waiving those fines if/when he shows up. But if Watson is sufficiently willing to pay the money in order to get out of Houston, that’s his prerogative.

He also would owe the Texans a portion of his signing bonus, if he refuses to practice of play. He has $21.6 million in unearned bonus money, which applies to each of the next four years at $5.4 million per year. Also, his future guarantees could be voided, if he refuses to show up for camp.

In lieu of holding out, Watson could hold in. He could, for example, be injured, or “injured.” He likewise could do the bare minimum, refusing to show up early or stay late or study film or lead his teammates or do anything other than say, “I just work here.”

When considering what Watson will do, it’s relevant to consider what cornerback Jalen Ramsey did once he decided he wanted out of Jacksonville, because both players are represented by David Mulugheta. In Ramsey’s case, however, the desire to get traded arose during the season. The rules made it virtually impossible for Ramsey to leave the team and wait to be traded.

For Watson, withholding services could be the best option, as long as he never shows up. With Watson already ignoring calls from the team’s owner (and the team’s owner trying to shrug if off), there’s a chance Watson wants out, that he’ll dig in, and that he’ll make it clear to the Texans that, whether they trade him or not, he’s not playing for them this year — or perhaps ever again.

Alternatively, the Texans could do everything they can to undo the damage they’ve done to the relationship. This is on them, and this is one of the natural byproducts of giving the keys to an executive V.P. of football operations/interim G.M. who has no business holding either job.

In assessing what the Texans can or will do to placate Watson, it’s important to remember at all times that the Texans are the team whose founder coined the phrase, “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”

17 responses to “Taking a look at Deshaun Watson’s options

  1. By the logic here, if Watson holds out and future guarantees are voided, he would be easier to trade.

  2. Or…and hear me out….he could act like a professional and just do what he’s being paid for. Instead of crying that he wasn’t consulted when the Texans hired their new GM. QB is the most important position on a team. Acting like this won’t look good to a lot of organizations. Well, the well run organizations that is. Maybe the Texans should trade him to the Jets.

  3. If he really wants out then let’s hear him say hes willing to re-work the contract to give the back the bonus money/avoid houston getting a cap hit and to lock it in he cant renegotiate his deal when traded til the last yr of his deal. I doubt any of that would be legal in the CBA or at least it would take a lot of loopholes to do it but if Watson said it then I could agree it’s about dysfunction not just an easier route to winning on why he wants out.

  4. I think teams will realize the reason Watson is unhappy has no merit. Watson may be unhappy but his expectation to be part of the GM decision is unrealistic.

    Watson also forgets, being traded also means he doesn’t get to chose his GM there either and any team with the capital to trade, cap space and interest – probably about the same as the Texans for talent level and record.

    Green Bay, Seattle, New Orleans etc are NOT the ones that make the deal.

  5. Watson’s problem is listening to his friends that play pro basketball. Those guys have power that NFL players don’t have.
    Also, Watson just signed a large contract extension. He doesn’t have any leverage on that front either.
    And regardless of how dysfunctional the Houston team is, Watson isn’t doing himself any favors by publicly pouting.
    I don’t know what McNair told him, and I don’t know what Watson expected to happen.
    He’s only going to get traded to a team that at this point may not be much better than the Texans right now.

  6. It is amazing how many posters here refuse to recognize the fact that the team told Watson he would be involved in the decision making for the GM and coach. Then the team hired a GM without telling Watson what was going on. Watson has every right to be angry–they flat out lied to him. Watson is a competitor and wants to win. He’s also seen the boneheaded decisions that Texans’ owner keeps making. I don’t blame him one bit for wanting out.

  7. Sounds like Watson is a whiner. Didn’t he just sign a huge contract? Maybe he should have made his demands then? He throws for a ton of yards, yet the team still loses. What does that say about his ability to make the team better and rally the men?

  8. I’m not a big believer in guys who do this. Many players are unhappy with their contracts but they honor their contracts. I like that approach rather than being a crybaby like Ramsey and AB. That puts Watson in some undesirable company.

    One option not listed was to do what Carson Palmer did and retire if he’s not traded. Palmer retired and the Bengals eventually traded him nine weeks into the season. If Watson were to retire he’d probably have to give back money, which is something I’m sure he has no intention of doing. But, he can’t have it both ways. If he wants out badly enough he’s going to have to sacrifice something. Personally, I don’t think he’s that good to do what he’s doing–demand input to hire the GM and coach. It might be different had a few rings like Brady. Watson hasn’t won anything.

  9. Somehow posters here ignore that they ASKED him for his input and then went out of their way to ignore it….

    And that teams break contracts all the time, so all players can do is withhold their services.

    Get over it.

  10. Tua plus a first round pick (preferably our second first rounder but I’d be willing to give up the 3rd overall pick for Watson). Dolphins have the cap spay and their best QB since Marino. With Watson they’d be a real threat to Buffalo next year.

  11. The best option I have heard is trading Deshaun Watson to Jacksonville for the number one pick which will be Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence. This is starting to get ugly very early when I hear Mike Wilbon’s rhetoric on ESPN equating the Houston situation with Watson to the storming of Congress by a group of lawless people!

  12. I’m confused…Watson never said anything about wanting to be traded. The front office clearly said they want him and wont trade him. So why all the noise about a trade the neither side said was going to happen….no story here.

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