When Texans G.M. Nick Caserio first addressed the possibility of a trade of quarterback Deshaun Watson, during the press conference that introduced coach David Culley, Caserio didn’t talk as if he had slammed the door on the possibility. Now, after circumstances have change dramatically regarding Watson from an off-field perspective, Caserio passed on a clear opportunity to say, unequivocally, that Watson is and will be a Texan.
Asked by Albert Breer of SI.com whether Watson will be traded, Caserio said, “I think we’ll take it one day at a time, and everything is pretty fluid here and we’ll adjust as we go. And ultimately, I think we’ll do what we feel is best for the Houston Texans organizationally.”
Asked more specifically whether this means Caserio is open to trading Watson, Caserio said, “I think ultimately we’ll do what we feel is best for the organization.”
Watson’s legal issues — 19 sexual assault lawsuits and counting — make it more difficult to discern what’s best for the team. For now, no one will make a significant offer for Watson’s contract, not with the legal process in the early stages and the looming possibility of a league suspension and/or criminal charges.
Then there’s the risk that Watson will land on the Commissioner Exempt list, requiring whoever employs him to pay him more than $10 million to not play in 2021, if Watson remains in that status for the full season.
Thus, even though Caserio didn’t say Watson won’t be traded, all options must remain on the table because these off-field realities for Watson can unfold in many different ways. The sooner he finds a way to accept a reckoning, to resolve the cases to the satisfaction of all involved, and to move forward with his career, the sooner the Texans and the rest of the league’s teams will have clarity as to Watson’s status. For now, however, there’s no simple path out of a legal maze that, with each additional lawsuit, becomes even more convoluted.