Why Don't the Houston Texans Start Deshaun Watson?

Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson / Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The NFL's regular season is quickly approaching. The Houston Texans are so ready for the regular season they canceled mini-camp and then tried to end training camp early. It's hard to imagine a team that is both better prepared and more ready to go. And just like the Pittsburgh Steelers, Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers who did not play their starting quarterbacks in the preseason, they are obviously going to start their star quarterback in Week 1, right?

Deshaun Watson is healthy. He's been at training camp every day. He is not suspended by the team for any reason. He is not banned from participating in practice or games by the NFL. He appears ready to collect his $10.54 million base salary this season. Though with the 17th game, that may be up to $11.16 million. He also appears to be due $5.4 million in signing bonus money this year.

According to Aaron Reiss of The Athletic (on The Fantasy Authority Podcast via Larry Brown Sports), he's just going to be sitting around, healthy.

“Watson will be either put on the exempt list or he’ll be suspended or he’ll be on the roster. At least as of this moment, he’s just going to sit on the roster, healthy scratch.”

Well, that doesn't make much sense. Why not play the star quarterback you're paying millions of dollars? It appears Watson is going to be eligible to play all season. If he hasn't done anything that the team or the league is going to suspend him for and he's going to get paid, the Texans should just play him, right?

Here's what Texans coach David Culley had to say about Watson training camp so far. Via Texans Wire:

“Every day he’s here, he comes in, he works. He does what we ask him to do, and he’s here every day, and he’s doing fine.”

Sounds absolutely exemplary.

Sure, Watson isn't actually practicing with the team, but how is that any different from the guys who are going to miss practices during the season because of injuries or COVID protocols who will then run out on the field on Sundays?

Sure, it would be a bad look for the Texans to try and play Watson, but if they tried they might force Watson to sit himself and forfeit checks because he still thinks he's getting a trade. Or it would force the NFL's hand and make them step in and put him on the commissioner's exempt list or something.

Someone needs to blink or Watson is just going to sit there and collect paychecks for a full season and no one involved is going to publicly address this situation because "He's doing fine," is apparently acceptable for everyone involved.