Speculation continues that the Texans will trade unhappy franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson at some point this offseason.
But listening to new Texans coach David Culley, that’s news to him. Culley met with the media as part of his NFL Combine press conference availability via Zoom on Thursday, and his consistent message when it came to Watson is he will remain a Texan.
“I don’t know about him not wanting to be a Houston Texan, what I hear from the outside,” Culley said. “I just know that he’s a Houston Texan. He’s ours. We’re committed to him, and we’re going to go with that.”
That has been the consistent theme since general manager Nick Caserio and Culley took over this offseason. But despite their cleverly worded responses to questions about Watson’s future, speculation is that at some point before the season the Texans will have to deal their disgruntled star.
Watson has not spoken publicly about his unhappiness, but even owner Cal McNair has admitted there is a rift. The quarterback has been upset with the organization since McNair did not honor his promise to involve Watson in the hiring of the general manager and head coach.
McNair has said that his calls to Watson went unreturned. Sources within the organization have said that Watson has informed the powers to be that he no longer wants to play for the Texans would like to request a trade. He apparently told Culley the same thing when they met shortly after his hire was announced.
Culley dodged questions about their meeting.
“Well, any conversations that we have with any of our players are always private conversations, and those conversations that we have, basically, we keep between us and the player,” Culley said. “Not just with him, but with all the other players that I have talked to the same way.”
But the most important conversation the new brass can have this offseason is with Watson. Rumors have been running rampant this offseason about him possibly being traded to the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers or Denver Broncos. The list seems to grow by the day.
Complicating the matter is that last September Watson signed a four-year, $160 million contract that gives him the right to refuse any trade. The Texans would want to trade him to a team with the greatest trade assets to give in return for their franchise quarterback while Watson wants to go to a team that has the talent and draft assets to win immediately.
“He’s a Houston Texan,” Culley said. “Again, I know that I feel like the commitment we’ve made to him, I feel like that same commitment will be there with us also moving forward.”
Caserio and Culley’s approach with Watson has seemed to be not to acknowledge his unhappiness or that any amends may need to be made in hopes of getting the quarterback to recommit to the franchise.
“Well, it’s not a matter of me trying to change anybody’s mind,” Culley said. “As I said before, right now we’re committed to him. He’s a Houston Texan, and we’re going to move forward with that.”
In other Texans news this week, the team confirmed that former defensive coordinator and last season’s interim coach Romeo Crennel has been retained as the senior advisor for football performance.
Former Bears and Tampa Bay head coach Lovie Smith has been hired as the defensive coordinator after a stint as head coach of Illinois.
Pep Hamilton has been hired as the passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach, giving Culley three African Americans in prominent assistant coaching positions on his staff.
Follow Terrance Harris on Twitter @terranceharris