Deshaun Watson would lose up to $20.2 million if he sits out the 2021 season

NFL: DEC 13 Texans at Bears
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If, as it appears, quarterback Deshaun Watson will never play for the Texans again and if, as it appears, the Texans won’t trade Watson, the stage will be set for a holdout. Different numbers have emerged regarding the monetary losses that Watson would incur. Below, we’ll try to identify the full scope of the financial consequences, if Watson exercises his right under the CBA to not play in 2021.

First, if the 2021 offseason has a mandatory minicamp and if Watson skips it, he’ll be subject to a fine in the amount of $93,085.

Second, if Watson skips training camp he’d be fined $50,000 per day. With 40 days in camp and six mandatory days off, that’s 34 days that Watson would miss, at a total fine of $1.7 million.

Third, he’d be fined the amount of a regular-season game check for each preseason game he misses. At a base salary of $10.54 million, that’s $620,000 per game. If, as expected, the 2021 season has three preseason games, he’d lose another $1.86 million.

Thus, for the offseason, training camp, and preseason, Watson would incur $3.653 million in fines if he doesn’t show up.

If Watson then skips the season — and if the NFL stages 17 games — he’d lose another $11.16 million in base salary.

On top of that, skipping the season would allow the Texans to recover Watson’s signing-bonus allocation for 2021. That’s $5.4 million in money that he’d have to return.

So if my math is correct (and it rarely is), skipping 2021 would spark a total financial loss of $20.213 million.

Skipping the full year also would toll Watson’s contract. If, then, he returns in 2022, his base salary would remain $10.54 million (based on 16 games). Currently, he has a 2022 base salary of $35 million (based on 16 games). That salary would move to 2023, and Watson would make more than $24 million less in 2022 than he’s currently due to earn.

Many believe that Watson doesn’t care about the lost money. Ultimately, it’s his decision. Under the CBA, he has the absolute right to skip the season, subject to the various fines and forfeitures outlined above.

Time will tell whether it comes to that. The Texans seem to be intent on rejecting all offers and waiting Watson out. If the team blinks later, the teams quite possibly won’t get what it could get if it tried to bring maximum teams to the table now and finagle the best possible compensation package.

88 responses to “Deshaun Watson would lose up to $20.2 million if he sits out the 2021 season

  1. A “game of hold-out” and Deshaun Watson wins this silly battle. DW will NOT play for TX’s this year, period.

  2. Watson is going to lose the stand off with McNair. McNair is not going to let some 25 year old employee boss him around, even if he is the best player in franchise history. Watson is only $16m against the cap in 2021 and with the money Houston would save not paying him, it makes total sense to hold onto Watson. Since his contract goes on hold if he sits out, McNair could keep him and do the same next year. The Texans are holding all the cards here…unless Watson wants out so bad he lifts his no trade clause and the Texans trade him to the highest bidder.

  3. They own his rights for 4 more years and for every year he sits out doesn’t count towards the 4. If they trade him now, or 3 years from now his trade value will be the same so I would call his bluff to sit out. For every year he does the Texans get about $5M back in signing bonus and another $2 or $3m in fines. I think it is both financially and strategically in the teams interest to have him hold out, suck and get high draft picks next year, recover part of his signing bonus plus fines, then trade him in a year or two and get the same value in draft picks that they could get today.

  4. Everybody is focused on what Watson losses, but this is a pressure cooker for the Texans too. It’s a bad team WITH Watson, so how many games will they win without him? Will fans even show up? And then, what’s the best case scenario… secure the no. 1 pick in the 2022 draft and use it on Watson’s replacement, and then trade him next offseason only to get a fraction of what he would be worth now? That’s a lot of punishment to take for the ability to “send a message.” If that’s what the Texans do, they’re dumber than they look, and they already look dumb.

  5. Looks like a “sore hammy” is going to keep him out of minicamp, training camp, and preseason.

  6. How ’bout he sit out the year so he can take some Business classes to prove he’s serious about any “input” he thinks he has for an NFL front office?

  7. It’s certainly hard to think that a a person, in this case Watson, could refuse to work for millions while playing a game he obviously loves. But remember, people like Watson are rare, they exhibit a unique athletic skillset. He is an elite talent and he knows his value and leverage in the modern NFL. If he sits out a year, he still make his $$$ at some point.

    So if he really wants out (meaning the situation can’t be salvaged) the Texans have to trade him. If they sit on the sidelines by not trading him they are only hampering themselves.

  8. They own his rights for 4 more years and for every year he sits out doesn’t count towards the 4. If they trade him now, or 3 years from now his trade value will be the same so I would call his bluff to sit out. For every year he does the Texans get about $5M back in signing bonus and another $2 or $3m in fines. I think it is both financially and strategically in the teams interest to have him hold out, suck and get high draft picks next year, recover part of his signing bonus plus fines, then trade him in a year or two and get the same value in draft picks that they could get today.
    ———————————————————————————–
    If Houston does this, moving forward, it’ll be extremely hard to resign players let alone attract anyone via Free agency. The media backlash simply wouldn’t be worth it. Like it or not, players have leverage. Facts are, if you run a crappy organization, players will demand trades. If i’m Houston, I don’t want disgruntled players in my locker room. Trade him, get a kings ransom, and rebuild the team from the ground up.

  9. If the team didnt lie to him this mess would never have existed.
    Problems on both parts.

    Realistically, at some point they’re going to have to let him go though. Seems silly to wait, his value will only decrease.

  10. Lots of pressure on both sides if he isn’t traded and he doesn’t report. Remember; The cap pressure is on the Texans. They still carry it while he holds out. Interesting to watch what will happen. Not as much fun looking at the Seahawks/Russell deteriorating relationship progression.

  11. In 4 seasons in the NFL, Deshaun Watson has pocketed just about $41 million in just NFL salary. If he has to pay back the $5.4 million, he’ll have made over $35 million dollars. Then add on endorsements, sponsorships, etc. that he’s made, probably pushes this closer to $50 million. I think he could walk away right now and never play another down of football and be smart enough to live well the rest of his life and set his family up for generations by making investments and creating new income.

  12. It sounds like he doesn’t care, and just wants out of Houston. The Texans should trade him before it’s too late and they don’t have a QB for the season.

  13. If they both played hardball, Watson loses more. Watson’s value won’t change much if he sits out a year. It will still be multiple first rounders next year. Except the Texans would probably have the #1 overall pick to add to their draft capital. They could trade Tunsil as well for a kings ransom, and pick up more draft capital. And can you imagine how much money they would be under the salary cap with their 2 biggest cap hits gone. Fans will be unhappy for a year, but when new highly touted players are drafted, and the team is on the upswing – that changes quickly.
    They aren’t going to win with Watson, so why not chart the best path to win without him? If I’m Casserio, I want him to sit out the year. The cap benefits and projected draft picks are massive. He has a 5 year deal, none of this mess is his fault, and he has a clear path to a quick rebuild in 3 years.

  14. Let him sit and accrue the fines. Then if he comes back and does anything wrong, suspend him like TB did with Keyshawn Johnson. Toll his contract, void his guarantees, and keep his rights. Carson Palmer did something similar until they dealt him from Cincinnati… who got a king’s ransom in the trade.
    Watson has put up great numbers for years but never won anything. He displaced Warren Moon as the QB for worst 2nd half performance ever in a playoff game. They got Cooks to replace DHop, and Fuller had his best year ever until he was suspended.

  15. Just wondering, if he sits out the season, does he still have medical insurance and the other benefits players receive with the NFL? Serious question.

  16. As kids there was always somebody threatening to take the ball and go home. Usually that person owned the ball. We learned then to always have a back up ball.

  17. I’d like for once to see a team call the players bluff. I guess the Steelers did with Leveon and he’s never been the same. He’ll never get back the money he forfeited.

    If Watson wanted out then why did he sign his extension? Bottom line is he’s an employee and has a contract, if he chooses not to honor that then I’d let him sit and rot.
    He’s an overrated QB, simple. Great QBs do not go 4-12 regardless of what’s around him.

    At the end of the day though I do think the Texans will trade him, unfortunate but the reality is they’ll cave as some team will overpay for a slightly above average QB

  18. If you’re a Texans fan do you want to go 5 years looking for another QB and have 4 #1’s from a team that with Watson, will not be in the top 10?

    Or would you trade Watson to Jacksonville for 1 #1 and Trevor Lawrence saving HUGE cap numbers with a 5 year rookie contract allowing cap space for other Free Agents to bolster the rest of the team?

  19. He will not win this battle. He just signed a deal last year, what has changed so much? The team is terrible anyway it wont make too much difference who’s at QB.

  20. He would be wiser to show up and do the minimum with a poor attitude and be disruptive from the inside. Make Houston not want to pay him for being a disruption. that’s his fastest way out of town, and he gets to bank 20 million.

  21. Another question. If Watson sits out, do the Texans get any relief in cap space, either this year or in the future?

  22. Man it’s crazy to think he will miss $20.2 million more than me when I also decide not to play in the NFL the season

  23. Fifty thousand dollars a day to show up to a few meetings and run a two a day practice. And they have the nerve to pout. Some of these guys live in a fantasy world. Absolutely ridiculous.

  24. Not convinced he’s doing a diva if the office sought his input, and for all we know promises of increased future inclusion in such decisions were made before he signed his big contract.

    As for setting an example by sitting him – get real, you really think other orgs would follow? Don’t be naive! It’s dog eat dog. They’ll make hay while Texans shoot themselves in the foot.

  25. I would imagine that when Watson and the Texans signed his Contract extension there were two IMPLIED beliefs: #1 Watson would put forth his best effort and try his best to win games; #2 The Texans would put forth their best effort to put the best possible team around Watson.

    Obviously #2 isn’t happening so I don’t see anything wrong with Watson showing up and half-assing it just like Texans management has been

  26. Let him hold out. They won 4 games with him. How bad they can be without him? win 1 or 2 games? Not a big deal.

  27. Sign Brissett and win 6 games. They were not playoff bound even with the great Watson. Wont be missed. He is gonna really cry when he goes to the Jets and has the same record but with half the stats. Plus 50 sacks.

  28. What’s to stop a player who’s embroiled in a dispute with their team, from showing up at practices and games just so they don’t lose out on getting paid, but deliberately not give 100%.

  29. Texans lose out on a historic draft haul if they don’t trade him. They gain nothing by keeping him.

  30. What a joke Watson continues to threaten as if anyone cares he sits out. Just shows how much money these players make they forget how much a million dollars is, no thought of any reality just for the fact they feel so important. Watson had no problem signing a contract when he got what he wanted and he has done nothing but cry the blues.

  31. You guys are hilarious. If an employee is willing to pay $20 million NOT to play for you, it’s time to move on. There is no hardball or lesson to be learned. It’s over.

  32. IMO, the Texans need to take a stand and hold his contract. The NFL cant have QBs forcing their way off of teams like this. Just this year alone, we have Wentz, Watson and now Wilson trying to force their way out of town.

    Its bad for the League when marquee players force their way out of town like this. Just look at the NBA’s ratings.

  33. devilsadvocate says:
    February 27, 2021 at 9:14 am
    What’s to stop a player who’s embroiled in a dispute with their team, from showing up at practices and games just so they don’t lose out on getting paid, but deliberately not give 100%.
    ============
    Yeah, his teammates would admire that. Fans too. Other teams looking to deal for him would be impressed as well. Not to mention the injury factor for a player who is not playing to the best of his ability. And lastly, one would hope that an athlete at the level of Mr. Watson only knows one way to play, and that is to give 100% in an effort to help the team win.

  34. If one of the owners doesn’t take a stand this will become commonplace like the NBA. Makes for an uncompetitive league.

  35. If the nfl continues to go down this path it’s not going to exist much longer. Employee’s can quit or be fired. The team doesn’t owe him jack, he comes off like an entitled child, and I hope they squat on him til he is too old to play. A line has to be drawn at some point and I think it’s now.

  36. Maybe he can just play and tank for them going 0-17. He gets paid and the team gets #1 draft pick to replace him and then trade him. Both sides are happy… except the fans.

  37. The one thing all the ‘pro-Watson’ supporters are overlooking in their analysis is that Watson has very little POSITIVE impact on the Texans revenues.

    16-0 or 0-16 the Texans get their same cut of the TV revenue (the NFL’s big source).

    So IF Watson sits out they get to save a lot of the money they would have paid him. A plus to the bottom line. They own his rights for 4 PLAYING years whether he plays or not. If he “retires” then he owes the Texans money (which I bet he doesn’t have).

    They obviously think Watson is a big time QB or they wouldn’t have paid them that much money. Yet they went 4-12 this year with Watson.

    So Watson sits out and let’s say they go 6-10. That only hurts Watson because he comes of as self centered and the team did better without him.

    Watson doesn’t hold a single card in this game:

    1) He’s an AVERAGE QB in the only category that really counts (28-25, .528 win percentage) WINS.
    2) He’s hugely expensive v the salary cap.
    3) If he holds out he becomes toxic to other NFL owners.
    4) If comes back and doesn’t get the Texans to the playoffs in 2021 he becomes untradeable.

    Yes teams are inquiring, and their inquiries (with the possible exception of JJ) are seriously low balling the Texans. Because he’s worth kicking the tires on if you can get him cheap enough.

    So if the Texans can’t trade him for a kings ransom (they can’t) and it saves them money if he sits (or they can get money back) just what incentive is there to accommodate him?

    This isn’t Fantasy football kids, these are multi-billion dollar businesses and they didn’t get this way by making financially dumb decisions. When a business commits that kind of money to a project they ride it out to the bitter end

    And they have plenty of examples of what happens to their peers when they do.

    Watson has one potential out here. He can go back to the Texans, agree to tear up the contract and pay them back a prorated part of his bonus and ask to hit free agency with a tag.

    That’s when he’ll find out what his true value is.

  38. Honor thy contract. If a team decides they don’t want a player who is still under contract they pay the price and take the cap hit. Sorry it’s hard to have sympathy for Watson or any qb who has signed for a whole lot of money. Whatever happened to owning up to your contract? Play it out and be professional for crying out loud.

  39. Watson on Twitter saying that Loyalty is all that matters. Didn’t the Texans sign him to $160 million? Obviously Watson doesn’t know the meaning and is acting like a stubborn brat! Looking like an idiot now.

  40. Watson will just tell them to trade me (Dolphins, Jets, Panthers, Bears…would give a kings ransom) or play the minimum 8 games for the season to count then he bolts and the Texans get nada. Texans would be bigger idiots to turn down the number 2 or 3 pick, a QB (Darnold, Tua, etc.) and draft capital. It ain’t that hard to do Mr. McNair.

  41. campcouch says:
    February 27, 2021 at 12:39 am
    Wish I had enough cash to lose 21 million because my boss decided to hire who he wanted.

    ——-

    No you don’t. Watson is showing a whole new character type we’ve never really seen before. And in my perspective, this is more disgusting than Buck found Moss’ moon celebration to be. Does not understand the value of what he’s been given. At this point, and because I’m not emotionally connected to “athletes”, I hope this washes him out of the league… knowing the high turnover. Replace his ass with other talent who is thankful ti even be on a roster.

  42. Watson has really painted himself into a corner here. It doesn’t seem as if his actions are going to result in a trade so what does he do then? I suspect he’ll have a change of heart as soon as it starts resulting in him losing money. That would require him to backtrack some of his statements. Also, if he does only give half effort once he rejoins the team that’s problematic. That’s a very slippery slope. Are teams going to be interested in a guy who can’t be a professional and play hard even though he’s unhappy? What’s to say he wouldn’t do that to a new team should he get traded? This is going to get interesting but Watson has put himself in a very touchy situation via his social media tirades.

  43. If Watson is serious about not playing for the Texans then it would make more sense for him to go the Andrew Luck route & “retire” (or at least threaten to) before the mandatory mini-camp to try & force a trade. By retiring, he would then avoid the fines. He still may be responsible for paying the signing bonuses back but would at least save nearly $15 million in fines this next season. 

  44. Deshaun, bro, show up, take a knee, take your pay check.

    You will then get traded to the team of your choice for pennies on the dollar.

    Don’t cave Deshaun, your the only one at the table with something to offer.

  45. This is taking far too much focus away from how Bill O’Brien completely annihilated this franchise. This team is hot garbage with Watson. They keep him in 2021, how many games do they win? He will never be more valuable than he is right now. This is not an inmate running the asylum issue. This is a “how do we rebuild our franchise” issue. If they can find someone willing to way overpay for him (you know, being on the opposite end of a Bill O’Brien trade), they should trade him in a second so they can start rebuilding the team for long-term success. That is of course assuming they have competent football people in place, but that’s another conversation……

  46. I really don’t think he cares. The difference between one and ten million to someone who grew up with nothing is negligible. I hope he stands on his principles.

  47. They’ll cave and Watson will be long gone before the draft, but it would be refreshing for an owner to call a star players bluff for once. Watson would cave by Week 4. Just too much $$$ to lose. Feel bad for the City of Houston man, you had Harden demand out and he’s out; now Watson too.

  48. Deshaun Watson is 25 in a league where if your an Elite QB you could play until your 40 and with a rising cap every year. He can make his money back. Losing 20 million to get him out of a bad situation especially if he goes to Jets and earn all that back in endorsements for being the Qb of a team based in new york. I don’t see how the Texans win in this situation. They don’t trade him then your left with a question mark at the position all year. You end up with a top5 pick and then what do you take a Qb or Trade Watson who value by then will be down because less teams will have the picks to make the trade happen. Everybody compares him to Leveon but Leveon still got his longterm deal and the Steelers didn’t win anymore without him. Plus Leveon is a Rb who can easily be replaced finding a top5 Qb is very rare.

  49. This whole thing is a completely orchestrated by his agent David Mulugheta. He’ll demand a trade, show up only when it would affect his paycheck and be a cancer to his team. When game day rolls around, he’ll have a sore back and won’t play. At the end of the day, he’ll hurt the team to the point that they’ll have no choice other than to trade him. If this sounds like a Jalen Ramsey situation, it should. They share the same agent.

  50. itsunclepauley says:
    February 27, 2021 at 1:11 am

    Everybody is focused on what Watson losses, but this is a pressure cooker for the Texans too. It’s a bad team WITH Watson, so how many games will they win without him? Will fans even show up? And then, what’s the best case scenario… secure the no. 1 pick in the 2022 draft and use it on Watson’s replacement, and then trade him next offseason only to get a fraction of what he would be worth now? That’s a lot of punishment to take for the ability to “send a message.” If that’s what the Texans do, they’re dumber than they look, and they already look dumb.

    The thing is that NFL teams make money no matter how poorly they play. Ask the Jets & the Browns (until a couple of years ago). Cowboys are the richest team in NFL & they haven'[t won a SB in 25 years. Much of the team revenues come from national money streams (TV deals, merchandising & corporate sponsorships).

    The TV money is divided up amongst the teams no matter who is the biggest draw. As reported, in 2020, each team received $296 million in TV revenue from the league. And reports are that the TV revenue will be even greater this year & into the future.

    So not sure it’s going to matter to Houston. They had a hugely losing season with Watson & JJ on the team.

    If they trade Watson & with JJ gone, aren’t they conceding losing seasons for the foreseeable future. And how would fans react to trading Watson away, especially if he goes on to win a SB with another team?

    Seems like a lose-lose situation for Watson, the Texans, and their fans.

  51. Kolo Jezdec says:
    February 27, 2021 at 10:30 am
    devilsadvocate says:
    February 27, 2021 at 9:14 am
    What’s to stop a player who’s embroiled in a dispute with their team, from showing up at practices and games just so they don’t lose out on getting paid, but deliberately not give 100%.
    ============
    Yeah, his teammates would admire that. Fans too. Other teams looking to deal for him would be impressed as well.

    ========================================

    EXACTLY! That puts him in a WIN, WIN situation. The man has it made.

  52. He should just sit down and be blunt with them. He should tell them that he will come to every practice and go through the motions. He should tell them that he has a very sensitive stomach, and that the idea of taking a snap for the Texans on Sunday is very upsetting to him and his stomach. So if he develops an issue with his stomach on game day, and can’t take the field, they should be prepared. He should also say that his religious beliefs don’t allow him to take medication for an upset stomach. Then he should use Donald Trump’s strategy and tell them he’s just kidding. But also use Trump’s definition of kidding. That way he gets paid every penny of his contract, and it’s up to the team to figure out if they want anything in return for the money they’re paying him. Or maybe they figure out it’s better to trade him. Watson is a very young man. Probably has 15 good years ahead of him. At an average of $40 million per year, that’s $600 million. That doesn’t include inflation or endorsement deals. I’d say time is on his side. And the other 31 teams are well aware of what’s going on inside the Texans’ building, so they won’t hold anything against Watson. Wanna play hardball? Two can play that game.

  53. Texans finish 4-12 with him. They need a total rebuild. They can deal him to accelerate the rebuild. It would be insane for them not to deal him and that is what will happen.

  54. Well, he’s not going to miss out on that kind of money. He’ll protest as much as he can, but he’ll show up. 20 mill is 20 mill. Come on.

  55. How can one lose something they do not already possess? What you mean to say is that he’d be missing out on $20.2 million if he refuses to play.

  56. Call his bluff Texans he’ll cave. If not he won’t win the long game if the team really digs in ask Bell.

  57. Listing how much money he loses is just “shock value” at this point…

    Watson doesn’t need that money. Sure it would be nice to have…but if he retired today… he has more than enough money to comfortably live the rest of his life.

    It’s just going to be a game of Chicken..and a stupid one at that… who is going to blink first??

    The 25 year old athlete, who is going to lose in a game he can’t win against (father time.. you can’t get those years back)

    Or..

    The Gazillionaire owner… who could care less about the money… but his pride is now damaged for overseeing a laughing stock organization at this point.

    It’s a case where EVERYONE loses…but none more than the poor Texan fans

  58. mrf47 says:
    February 27, 2021 at 12:29 am
    He should show up and do the minimum; “hold in”.

    I like it. This shall be forever known as “Pulling a James Harden.” Show up, be an ass, play like your only out to not get hurt. The problem is in the NFL unlike the NBA he can’t half ass it or he’ll be called out by his linemen who wont block for him leading to his head being ripped off. Nice idea but hard to pull off.

  59. Texans won’t let it come to that as he is worthless to everyone on the sidelines. If Watson sticks to his a guns much like Carson Palmer did in 2011 which forced Mike Browns hand that same strategy will eventually force Cal McNairs hand, the only questions are how bad does Watson out and how far is he willing to go. Watson should come out again and make it 100% clear he is not coming back and won’t play for Houston as then it forces Houston to make a move at QB either in the draft or free agency further separating Watson from the franchise. HOU will make Watson sweat it out and he might even miss a game or two this season but if he really wants out this is the way to force their hand and I hope he does so long as he STAYS OUT OF THE NFC WEST LoL. This division is already stacked with talent from top to bottom the last thing we need is another great QB.

  60. It is time for the Texans to show some backbone, stand firm and not trade him.

    If there really are four #1 picks on the table and a good player I think that makes the team better in the long-term, but not this year. Maybe Culley ends up being a good coach and if you’ve got your QB already why not pursue that?

    Watson is not going to sit the season out. He would have to do it for four more years after that because Houston has him signed five more years.

    He is someone who cares about his image so he’s not going to tank either. He may sulk but he is going to try to win, because if Houston goes 7-9 or something with a new coach he knows it will reflect on him. He won’t be able to write his ticket in 2022.

  61. Just think back to when you were 25 years old and had a job where your employer was treating you like crap and only paying you $39,000,000.00.
    Man feel so bad for these guys with these lousy paying jobs in the NFL, and the horrible working conditions don’t even get me started on that. It’s not they’re babied……..

  62. Explain to me again why if a person is getting paid millions they would not want to go to work. One of these days some owner will call some players bluff to make an example out of them.

  63. Why do they even have “contracts” if neither side is obligated to fulfil their end? BTW the 9ers should be on the phone, they are an immediate contender with DW under center. They should send Jimmy G to Houston or just cut him.

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