Bill O'Brien, the GM, has been the rightful target of heavy criticism over the last two seasons. That criticism has never been louder than this year, when he traded All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for David Johnson. O'Brien's consistently puzzling decision-making did not give anybody much optimism that he would be able to make even a single decent move as general manger.
However, Houston Texans fans can rest easy after the news of Saturday morning. Deshaun Watson and the team successfully came to an agreement on a four-year contract extension worth $160 million. The deal will pay him $39 million a year once it kicks in. While O'Brien has many shortcomings as personnel manager of this team, he definitely did not screw this up.
Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the league already at only 24-years-old. In two full seasons as starter, he's thrown 52 touchdowns and 21 interceptions for a grand total of 8,017 yards. In both of those campaigns, he completed at least 67 percent of his passes. He's added to all that with his effectiveness on the ground, running for nearly 1,000 yards in that time frame with 12 touchdowns to boot.
More than all that, though, Watson has the "it" factor. Whenever the Texans desperately need a big play, he'll provide. His spin out of a sack on a corner blitz against the Buffalo Bills was one of the best plays of the playoffs and directly led to a postseason victory. He's clutch. He makes jaw-dropping plays. He's not a guy you let get away.
Watson's extension would make him the highest-paid player in the NFL right now. It doesn't kick in until the end of his current deal in 2021, though, and someone (like Dak Prescott) will likely sign a deal with a higher per-year average. Regardless, however, Watson earned it. He's the savior of a franchise with a history of failure. The hopes and dreams of the Houston Texans begin and end with Watson.
His ACL tear from his rookie season is a mild concern when it comes to future injuries, and as good as Watson is, he can't do it alone. O'Brien's other roster decisions may still ultimately sink the team. But everybody in the building can rest easy, at the very least, that Watson will be here for the duration. No more rumors about the New England Patriots swooping in when he hits free agency.
Watson is here to stay. Houston will be in contention the whole time he is. O'Brien might not be the man to bring the Texans to the peak of NFL success, but he at least put the most important foundational piece into place.