If you were expecting Texans general manager Nick Caserio to shed any meaningful light on the team’s plans for unhappy and trouble quarterback Deshaun Watson this week, think again.
Caserio met with the media this week following the cutdown of the roster to NFL-mandated 53 players and the discussion quickly turned Watson, who to the surprise of many is on the final roster though it’s still highly unlikely the Pro Bowl quarterback will ever play for the Texans again.
While Caserio had to know Watson was the most interesting roster move the Texans made this week, he certainly didn’t add any clarity to the thinking of the franchise on their quarterback who is playing on the final year of his rookie contract before his four-year, $156 million contract extension kicks in in 2022.
Watson is set to make $10.5 million this season whether he touches the field or not.
“I’m not going to get into a lot of speculation,” Caserio said when asked if there is any scenario where Watson takes the field for the Texans this season. “I think any conversations that we have with the players, we’ll keep that between ourselves.
“I’ve had multiple conversations with Deshaun in training camp. Like I said, his attitude has been good, he hasn’t been a problem, he hasn’t been a disruption. So, we’re going to take it one day at a time.”
Last week, speculation heated up about Watson being on the move, most likely to either Miami or Carolina. But here Watson remains, and there is a real chance the Texans won’t find a trade partner anytime soon.
The Texans want – and deservedly so – a king’s ransom for a quarterback of Watson’s ability and upside. The problem is with Watson facing civil lawsuit allegations of sexual misconduct by 22 massage therapists, along with a criminal investigation and almost certain league suspension at some point. Thus, his value to other teams is very much up in the air.
Complicating trade possibilities even more is that Watson has veto power over any trade and the speculation is that his preferred destination is Miami. The problem there is Dolphins head coach Brian Flores doesn’t seem real interested. In fact, Flores seemed to go out of his way this week to talk about preferring high character players and making it clear that he likes his young quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
So, given that there isn’t a clear trade partner in the mix for Watson, the Texans seemed to have little choice but to keep him on the 53-man roster, although Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills appear ahead of the Top 10 quarterback on the depth chart.
But Caserio was in no mood this week to talk about what went into the decision to keep Watson on the active roster.
“I’m not going to get into speculation about what could or could not have happened,” he said. “Each day, we take information, we process it, and then we go about our business and try to make the right decision, and the best decision at the time.
“That’s what we did, he’s on the roster, he’s on our team. And what does that mean moving forward? Again, that’s a one day at a time, I would say, proposition and endeavor, and that’s how we’re going to handle it.”
In actuality, the Texans have given little insight into their plans at quarterback this season. It would seem, given practice reps and preseason reps, that the veteran Taylor will start and Mills is the future franchise quarterback in waiting. But as of Thursday morning, first-year coach David Culley still wasn’t ready to name a starter with the Sept. 12 season opener against Jacksonville is fast approaching.
“We have not indicated to anybody right now that they will be a starter,” Culley said. “We have gone through this thing competition-wise and obviously next week when we get back in here on Monday, we will say who is who. But at this point we have not told anybody anything.”
What could that mean for Watson? Is there a scenario where he could play for the Texans this season?
“I’m not going to comment about what’s going to happen, who’s going to play, who’s going to do what,” Caserio said. “So, I’ll say he’s on the roster today, and we’re going to take it one day at a time.”