Sean Pendergast

Tensions Rising Between Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans

Deshaun Watson, in much happier times as a Houston Texan.
Deshaun Watson, in much happier times as a Houston Texan. Photo by Eric Sauseda
It was an interesting day over at NRG Stadium on Friday afternoon. The Texans introduced their fourth head coach in franchise history, with 65-year-old David Culley taking his first head coaching job of his career, and in the process stepping right into a Deshaun Watson-induced maelstrom, in which the 25-year-old franchise quarterback has officially requested a trade.

For what it's worth, the organization used this press conference as an opportunity to state its stance openly, for the first time since Watson's demands. This from new GM Nick Caserio:

And this from new head coach Culley:

As an aside, I just felt bad for Culley, at times, on Friday, because this is his first chance at being in the big seat, and I got the sense at times that either he didn't realize or didn't care what kind of sticky situation he is walking int. Nevertheless, he is presumably getting compensated well for (possibly) winning very few games the next couple seasons.

Anyway, just hours after this performance from Caserio and Culley, Deshaun Watson did two things, one pretty clearly in response to things over at NRG yesterday, and the other as impromptu response to a sensitive question. First, Watson scrubbed his social media profiles of any mention of the Texans. Considering Deshaun has only been speaking in fluent "social media speak" throughout this saga, I interpret this as a middle finger to the Texans. How could you not?

Second, in a virtual game of Madden with several others, Watson had this exchange with Deion Sanders about where he plans on playing next season:
"You got my cell." Indeed. 

OK, with the Texans now having named their new head coach, and the offensive staff filling their OC (Tim Kelly, sticking around) and QB coach (Pep Hamilton) spots, it's getting down to nut cutting time. This staring contest could get ugly, so let's lay out the POSSIBLE stances of both sides, with each side publicly taking the complete opposite tacks — the Texans saying "we are not trading you," and Deshuan essentially saying "trade me or else"..

First, the possible sides the Texans are on here, with my percentage belief that it is truly the case:

1. THE "FACE VALUE" SIDE — 67 percent
The Texans seriously believe what they were saying on Friday — that they are keeping Deshaun Watson, he is under contract, and he is going nowhere. He will only play for the Houston Texans. I gave this a 57 percent because I think, quite simply, there are three people with say on this that matter — Caserio, Cal McNair, and Jack Easterby. I think the latter two believe this to be the case.

2. THE "TRADE POSTURING" SIDE — 33 percent
The Texans know this is headed down a road to where they’re gonna need to move on, and they’re making trade suitors know that they aren’t rolling over. According to reports, they haven't been returning calls of trade offers. I give this 33 percent, because I think Caserio, who ironically is the person who has stated the Texans' stance on this, has the sense to know where this is headed, and part of him may want to just start a rebuild. The best way to do that is to get a Herschel Walker-sized haul for Watson.

Now, the possible sides Deshaun could be on here, with likewise percentages:

1. THE "HE GONE" SIDE — 75 percent
Basically, it is what it is. Watson is fed up, and has moved on. He wants out, and will not be coming back, and he is ready to sit out and miss game checks and give back signing bonus money.

2.THE  "NEED TO SEE MORE" SIDE — 10 percent
Watson has seen them hire or retain some coaches that he might like, but he needs to see more. This is not enough. Perhaps, escorting Jack Easterby from the building would be a solid finishing move. I dunno, I'm not Deshaun Watson. Essentially, there is still a chance he comes back, but with more conditions met.

3. THE "AGENT PLAYBOOK" SIDE — 15 percent
This one is the most complicated possibility, but what if this standoff is more about the "big picture," and turning player movement in the NFL into what the NBA has become, where star players, even under contract, can force their way out of a situation. (Sound familiar, Rocket fans?) In this case, this standoff would be something more engineered by Watson's agent, David Mulugheta, than by Watson himself. This is the most fascinating of all the choices because it's got the juiciest future storylines. Stay tuned!

In case you're wondering, Texan fans have already adjudicated this thing and assigned the blame, and it does not look good for the owner of the team:

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast