As quarterback Deshaun Watson continues to want a trade and as the Texans continue to pretend that he doesn’t, an important question lingers.
How did it get to this point?
A new article in TheAthletic.com takes a closer look at how Watson lost faith in the team. The story points to a handful of incidents that caused Watson to lose trust in the team, sparking his desire to leave.
First, Watson learned of the DeAndre Hopkins trade on social media. That became the “first major crack” in the relationship.
That didn’t stop Watson from signing a long-term contract extension with the team. Per the report, those negotiations included O’Brien telling Watson’s representatives “that the quarterback would be more involved in the team-building process moving forward.”
It quickly became obvious, however, that offseason efforts to improve the team had resulted in a larger, not smaller, gap between the Texans and Chiefs. Then came three more losses and the abrupt firing of coach/G.M. Bill O’Brien. As a result of the decision to dump O’Brien, “Watson questioned the Texans’ plan — if they had one at all.”
The plan, by all appearances, seems to involve executive V.P. of football operations Jack Easterby holding and expanding his power and influence. If so, that plan has been wildly successful. The team, however, has not been.
Watson apparently doesn’t like the Easterby approach. Per the report, Watson’s public call for “a whole culture shift” was a “direct message to Cal McNair” that the team should get rid of Easterby. McNair, obviously, didn’t — and won’t — dump Easterby.
It got worse after the season, when the Texans created the impression that Watson would have input in the major hires but didn’t. The off-the-board decision to make Nick Caserio the new G.M. (the report in TheAthletic.com echoes our prior report that McNair was led to believe that Caserio was posed to join the Panthers, even if he wasn’t) became the latest development of which Watson learned through social media. Then, his recommendation that the team interview Eric Bieniemy and Robert Saleh for the head-coaching position was ignored.
Given the recent obsession with “culture” in Houston, the team’s resistance to trade a player who wants to be no part of that culture becomes even more confusing. Watson wants Easterby out; why would Easterby want to keep Watson around?
Maybe they hope he’ll eventually come around. Or maybe they just don’t want to let him have his way. After all, this is the franchise that gave the football-following world a regrettable catch phrase: “We can’t have the inmates running the prison.”
If the son of the man who spoke those word in 2017 believes them to be true, this tug-of-war with Watson could be, at its core, an effort to not let Watson show that he can get his way. If so, that would represent a gross failure of the Texans to make decisions in the true and actual best interests of the team.