While the focus should be on the quest for the Super Bowl, Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has so many other critical issues to deal with heading into his fourth NFL season that the championship chase seems all but a backdrop at this point.
There is the looming COVID-19 pandemic that has NFL players concerned about their safety and the NFL decision-makers scrambling for answers. But Watson is also dealing with the surprising trade of his top receiver DeAndre Hopkins and his expected blockbuster contract extension after Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes inked a record 10-year, $503 million extension heading into his fourth NFL season.
Watson recently discussed these issues and more as he and his teammates opened training camp with an eye toward the Sept. 10 kickoff against the Chiefs.
Q: What is your comfort level with the COVID-19 protocols the NFL and the Texans have implemented?
A: At first it was a lot of different stories coming out about the protocol and things like that. I feel like safety and health is always first. We all want to play football. We all want to do the right things, but at the same time we have to make sure because we’re going home to our families and people that might have a health condition or might have some type of problem. I know that this organization from when I came in has changed everything and put in the right safety precautions – [from] sanitizing the locker room to the way we manage things.
Q: How important is it to get a contract extension done before the season?
A: Like I said, football is my main focus. My agent knows the time and the time limit, and things like that. My biggest thing, like I’ve always been wanting to do since I was a little kid, is just play football, win a championship, win games and compete.
Q: What was your reaction to Patrick Mahomes’ contract extension?
A: It was awesome. It was awesome for him to be able to achieve something so big and get what he deserves. I actually texted him that day when the news came out and he texted right back. The friendship and the bond that we have has been great ever since high school, from the Elite 11 to college to all of that. That was definitely dope.
Q: Why was it so important for you to not publicly comment on the DeAndre Hopkins trade and trust that Bill O’Brien was doing the right thing for the organization?
A: Because that’s not my pay [grade]. I can’t control that. I feel the way I feel, but it’s not my place and time to be able to speak on that because I didn’t know the whole background story on what exactly happened. That’s their business and that’s their lane. I’m not going to step out of my lane and get in that.
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris