On paper, this is just your average, normal NFL week in June over at NRG Stadium. The Houston Texans have a handful of OTA sessions, the assistant coaches did their first media availability of the offseason on Tuesday, and preparations for mandatory minicamp next week, ostensibly, are underway. The Texans' roster is what it is, a unique ragtag potpourri of veterans on one-year and two-year deals, but their prep for the upcoming season is conventional.
Of course, the offseason is not conducted on paper, and the roster for the Texans, while it tells a story (a sad story of a likely long, LONG regular season), doesn't tell the whole story. The aura of Deshaun Watson looms over everything, as he hashes out the 22 civil lawsuits under which he is buried right now. Lawsuits or no lawsuits, Watson long ago wanted out of Houston and was likely staying away from the Texans this offseason.
On Tuesday of next week, mandatory minicamp is set to begin, a three day session for which players are contractually obligated to show up, or receive fines approaching six figures (around $93,000, more precisely). That's the choice Deshaun Watson might be facing, come Tuesday of next week — show up, or get fined $93,000.
OR there are other options. In fact, by my estimate, there are four Watson-related outcomes that could occur between now and next Tuesday, some juicier than others. Here they are, along with the odds of each occurring:
Excuse Deshaun Watson from minicamp
This option got a lot of run earlier this week in the case of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Their minicamp began on Tuesday, and Rodgers was nowhere to be found. He is in a similar dispute with the Packers that Watson is with the Texans (minus the lingering dark cloud of litigation from the entire massage community of his metro area). To play nice, the Packers could excuse Rodgers from minicamp and avoid a standoff. The Texans could do the same with Watson. This is the favored outcome, in my opinion. It avoids the most drama, and unless the Texans are hellbent on collecting $93,000, it's what keeps the Watson questions at press conferences to a minimum.
Cancel mandatory minicamp altogether
Before you scoff at this, just know that I am not saying the Texans do this strictly to avoid Watson drama (although admittedly, that would be hilarious). We are seeing a lot of teams around the league negotiating side deals with their player constituency, whereby if they show up for the voluntary workouts, they will cancel mandatory minicamp. The Colts and Eagles are two teams who've done exactly that. For what it's worth, other than Watson, every player on the Texans' roster seems to be accounted for at OTAs the last few weeks, so there is a possibility that the coaches give the players the rest of the summer off before training camp starts in late July.
Fine Deshaun Watson for not showing up
This would be the juiciest of all the outcomes. If the Texans were to fine Deshaun Watson for missing a mandatory minicamp that they probably don't want him around for anyway, the salacious talk radio angles abound. So do the Texans still want Watson on the team? Are the doing this just to stick it to him? As a radio host and writer, I beg the sports gods — please, let this be what happens. PLEASE!
Deshaun Watson shows up, avoids fines
The last thing Watson is doing is showing up in a building he doesn't want to work in to work for an employer he doesn't want to work for. Also, there will be media with microphones there, and one thing Watson has done well this offseason is avoiding microphones.
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