It appears that the relationship between the Houston Texans and their starting quarterback is too damaged to repair.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Deshaun Watson has “officially” requested a trade from the Texans.
Schefter said that the request came several weeks ago, so it never mattered to him whom the Texans hired as their new head coach. David Culley has reportedly been named the team’s new head coach.
Watson has a full no-trade clause, so he’ll decide exactly where he goes. And it seems like he came to this decision awhile ago. According to Schefter, Watson hasn’t spoken to the new general manager, Nick Caserio, who was hired in early January, or controversial vice president of football operations Jack Easterby.
Season of discontent comes to a head
Watson’s discontent with the team appears to have started last offseason, when the Texans surprisingly traded wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Watson was reportedly upset with the deal and that he found out about it on social media.
That didn’t stop Watson from signing a four-year, $156 million extension with the Texans in September. Watson was looking to extend the Texans’ playoff streak to three seasons, but an early 0-4 record brought any hopes of that to an end. Head coach and GM Bill O’Brien was fired and interim head coach Romeo Crennel couldn’t stop the bleeding. Despite Watson’s excellent season, the Texans finished 4-12, and somehow that disappointing record is even worse than it looks. Thanks to the Laremy Tunsil trade, the Texans’ first- and second-round draft picks belong to the Miami Dolphins.
Things didn’t get better after the Texans’ season ended. With both the GM and head coach spots open, Watson brought the concerns of his teammates to the front office, hoping to have a say in the process. Instead, team owner Cal McNair hired Jack Caserio to be the new GM, ignoring Watson and the advice of a search firm. Public statements from McNair reportedly bothered Watson even more, and according to Schefter, he requested a trade not long after.
Where could Watson end up?
Watson’s trade request doesn’t mean he’ll get one. The Texans could simply say, “No, we are absolutely not trading you,” and continue on as they have been. But an unhappy star is a recipe for disaster.
With so many teams in need of a smart, talented quarterback, there are multiple possible destinations. He could land with the Detroit Lions, who are moving on from Matthew Stafford. The retirement of Philip Rivers means the Indianapolis Colts need a new quarterback. The New England Patriots have a large, Tom Brady-shaped hole at quarterback that Cam Newton couldn’t fill. The Miami Dolphins seemed to put all their eggs in Tua Tagovailoa’s basket in 2020, but there are questions about his overall talent and ability to grow.
There’s one team that needs a franchise quarterback that’s also reportedly preferred by Watson: the New York Jets. Sam Darnold hasn’t turned into what the Jets hoped he’d be, and they seem to be looking to start over fresh. After ending the disastrous Adam Gase experiment, the Jets hired Robert Saleh as their new head coach, and Watson reportedly wants to work with him.
No matter where Watson wants to go, there’s no guarantee he’ll go there — or anywhere. The Texans will ultimately decide if they want to trade their star quarterback. But Watson, his talent, and his very apparent unhappiness will definitely influence their decision.
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