The Houston Texans have a serious quarterback dilemma this week.
No, it’s not the current mess playing out on the football field these past several Sundays.
(SPOILER ALERT: Tyrod Taylor has been cleared to practice and will be the starting quarterback against the Los Angeles Rams).
It’s time to finally make a trade decision on Derrick Deshaun Watson. The Texans are on the clock. They have until Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. to move their disgruntled and troubled franchise quarterback or let the fiasco continue to hover over the team like Hurricane Harvey for the next several months.
All indications are something is about to happen on or before the upcoming trade deadline. The Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers are in play, general manager Nick Caserio is listening with more realistic expectations and Watson has reportedly adjusted his no-tradeclause from Miami or bust to being open to other landing spots.
This is what happens when all sides are properly motivated.
The Dolphins, despite coach Brian Flores’ weekly votes of confidence for second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and his recent four-touchdown performance in a losing effort to Atlanta, are not convinced they have their franchise quarterback in place.
The Panthers, who were interested in Watson when he first demanded a trade back in January but backed off once the sexual misconduct allegations started popping up from random massage therapists, now realize investing in Sam Darnold this past offseason was a huge mistake.
Caserio, who has fluctuated between demanding a king’s ransom to being non-communicative with potential trade partners for Watson’s services, is realizing his leverage could be waning on his valuable asset once the legal system, civil courts and NFL make a decision on the allegations being waged against Watson.
Then there is Watson, himself. With his no-trade clause in his contract, Watson is sitting in what is usually a position of power. But with his legal troubles and the NFL seemingly ready to pounce the moment a team makes a trade, Watson is actually in a position of uncertainty.
In a normal situation, more than half the league would be beating down the Texans doors for a chance to get a quarterback of Watson’s franchise quarterback caliber. But with Watson at the least being a public relations nightmare for any team that would trade for him, and likely facing the NFL Commissioner’s Exempt List (essentially paid leave) and an eventual lengthy suspension, most teams are steering clear given he would be the face of the franchise.
Then there is the damning issue of possible criminal charges and jail time for a quarterback whose four-year, $156-million extension kicks in next season and the team that lands him would be out of valuable trade assets and players to have pulled off the trade.
So, Watson’s first right of refusal is limited to maybe a handful of teams.
Watson has yet to touch the football field this season, and in all likelihood will not play this season for any team he may end up with. The NFL has steered clear of making any moves on Watson so far because of the impasse he has with the Texans.
But the minute a trade is consummated, the belief is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will stash Watson on the exempt list while his legal troubles play out. And that could take a couple of years unless Watson and his attorneys begin settling some of the lawsuits.
Clearly, there are dilemmas everywhere, but the Texans have the biggest one.