We knew things weren't great in Houston when multiple reports indicated star quarterback Deshaun Watson wasn't returning calls from the front office and wanted a trade from Houston following the organization's decision to hire Nick Caserio as general manager. But I don't think anyone realized things were this bad.
According to a report from Adam Schefter, Watson's anger level with the team is at "a 10" and "some around the league" believe Watson could sit out next season based on how upset he is with the Texans. Schefter's report indicated this bombshell did not come from Watson's camp, but "others insist it will be in play."
On ESPN, Schefter added the following: "The other option at Watson's disposal in the opinion of people around the league would be this: withholding his services from the Houston Texans. That's how angry he's said to be. And again, it's only January. It's just getting started. Perhaps they can calm him down and talk to him. But that is also an option that the Texans would not want to see, where he would wind up withholding his services, threatening to retire or at least not go to Houston. But this is an issue that's not going away."
That's a shocker.
Watson is apparently "furious" with the Texans' decision to hire Caserio over the likes of Omar Khan from the Steelers and Louis Riddick from ESPN. This comes after Watson's top wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins, was traded for pennies on the dollar last offseason and the Texans lost the No. 3 pick in this year's draft in a trade for Laremy Tunsil. The Texans have holes to fill across the offense and JJ Watt appears to be leaving Houston as well. Watson, it appears, wants to follow suit.
Watson signed a four-year, $156 million extension with the Texans last offseason and is tied to it until at least 2024. There are plenty of suitors who would love to trade for the three-time Pro Bowler and 2020 passing leader, but star quarterbacks with long-term extensions aren't typically traded even if they're discontent. The trade demands are just so extreme it's hard to make a deal work for both sides.
It appears Watson could employ a negotiation tactic usually reserved for players who are seeking a new contract, which is holding out. The last high-profile player we saw sit out an entire year was Le'Veon Bell, but again, that was about an extension, not a trade demand. The closest recent example to a superstar player sitting out amidst a trade demand was Jalen Ramsey, who wanted to leave the Jags and get a new contract. He got his wish with a trade to the Rams and has been outstanding since, but this is a completely different story.
We have to take the idea of Watson sitting out an entire season with a grain of salt because it's not coming from his camp, or at least doesn't appear to be. Until he says it, it's conjecture. But things have deteriorated faster than anyone could have imagined in Houston and this extreme view is just a window into the discord surrounding the team. The only question remaining is will that team include the face of the franchise or will it feature a new one?