Since Deshaun Watson formally issued a trade demand and then reiterated that demand to the Houston Texans more than a month ago, the franchise has shown no willingness to appease their superstar quarterback. In fact, they've been defiant in the face of public and private pressure to trade Watson, with both their GM and coach publicly stating Watson is part of the team and they have no intention to acquiesce to his request.
Interestingly enough, the Texans proved on Sunday they are willing to fulfill the trade requests of Pro Bowl players. It seems they only hold the rule of refusing to trade a player who has requested it to Watson.
After recently requesting a trade from the Texans, former Pro Bowl linebacker Benardrick McKinney was given permission to seek one by the team. Today, McKinney got his wish when he was sent to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for linebacker Shaq Lawson.
While this is an interesting trade that should benefit both players and teams, the real story here is the fact that Houston allowed McKinney to leave when he indicated that was his goal. Comparing his situation to Watson's isn't realistic, mostly because the gap in trade value between the two is wider than the Grand Canyon, but it does show the Texans are willing to play ball when under pressure from a player seeking a trade.
Since making his trade demand to Houston in February, Watson has reportedly remained steadfast in his desire to leave the Texans organization, going as far as saying he's willing to sit out the season and incur fines rather than play for them again. The Texans are also dug in on not trading Watson. According to James Palmer, nothing has changed in that situation.
Watson and the Texans are involved in a high-stakes game of chicken here. If Watson sits out the entire season, he'll be fined heavily, could be forced to give back a portion of his signing bonus and and not accrue a year of playing time. If the Texans don't trade him, they'll have no quarterback and will miss out on the additional resources a trade would land them to help rebuild the team. They would also further alienate themselves from future players who won't want to commit to an organization that holds its players hostage.
It's an incredibly interesting standoff that likely won't end until we get closer to the NFL Draft starting on April 29. That's when the Texans will be forced to choose whether they want to trade for players and draft assets in return for Watson now or if they're willing to see if Watson blinks first. But we know they are willing to make a deal when someone pushes them to do so, which is something we haven't seen so far this offseason.