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.