It’s become increasingly likely that after months of speculation the Texans could decide not to honor Deshaun Watson’s wishes and refuse to trade the quarterback. It’s on-brand for an organization that has become synonymous with dysfunction, but disregarding a trade request like this isn’t just bad for the future of the organization, it’s unfair to a player who handled his time in Houston the right way.
Watson is clearly done with the Texans. In the past few months the organization showed him no respect by interviewing head coach candidates he wanted the team to talk to, and trying on the back-end to shower him with praise in front of teammates to embarrassing levels. It’s led to Watson understandably wanting out, but the Texans are digging their heels in.
Houston continues to avoid conversations with teams in regards to trading Deshaun Watson per sources. They are refusing to trade their franchise QB.— Dianna Russini (@diannaESPN) February 25, 2021
It’s one thing to want to try and turn the corner and convince Watson the Texans can put a winning team together, but another entirely to be stupid enough not to engage in talks. It’s a path that will lead to getting less back in trade, with no guarantee Deshaun will be happy to remain in Houston.
It shows a level of ego-driven pride from an organization with nothing to be proud of. Now a seemingly innocuous tweet from Watson has everyone in a tizzy, assuming he’s talking about their organization.
Loyalty is everything. Don't you EVER forget it.— Deshaun Watson (@deshaunwatson) February 25, 2021
It’s clear Watson wants an organization that will allow his voice to be heard. Not a franchise being built around past relationships in mega churches as the Texans continue to try and emulate the New England Patriots, despite this technique failing time, and time again in other cities — and heck, it failed in Houston too with Bill O’Brien.
There are a few key reasons why the Texans need to trade Watson.
Watson wants out
The idea of loyalty and respect between players and teams is always viewed as being a one-way relationship. Players are expected to do whatever an organization wants, because they’re being paid big money to play. However, the reality is that the flow should be mutual.
Houston broke that arrangement when they failed to even bother talking to coaches Watson wanted to work with. It would have been the smallest modicum of respect the organization could offer, and they couldn’t muster that.
So, while it might be tempting to say “Watson should get over it” if you’re a Texans fan, there’s a reality that keeping a disgruntled player causes deep harm to an organization. Not only by the influence of having the team’s leader unhappy, and that possibly spreading through the organization — but that keeping a player like this sends a message to every agent that they shouldn’t recommend the Texans to their clients.
This second part is significant, because while money talks, these smaller elements are the difference between a player coming to Houston or choosing another team when the money is equal. The future of the organization’s ability to attract free agents could hinge on how they treat Watson now.
Watson’s trade value will never, ever get better than it is right now.
This offseason we’ve seen former top quarterbacks get dealt for next to nothing because they were kept past their prime. There’s no question Watson is more talented than Jared Goff or Carson Wentz, but the point remains that waiting too long will only make this worse.
There are a variety of possible trade packages being floated from numerous teams, and all are tantamount to a king’s ransom. Make no mistake: Watson is worth it, but with these possible deals the Texans could completely reform their entire roster with a bevy of picks, and established players.
It’s a difficult pill to swallow. Getting rid of a top quarterback always is, but there’s a silver lining here that if you’re the front office you’re getting such a wild return that if you have faith in your scouting departments you should be able to use the return to make the Texans a better overall team, rather than having Watson and a bunch of magic beans — like Houston has right now.
If the Texans are determined to keep an unhappy Deshaun Watson this situation will get worse. Perhaps he’ll sit out, or refuse to play — possibly tanking his potential trade value. Maybe he plays, but with less weapons on a diminishing team and looks worse by extension, also driving his value down. In either case he’ll just be getting older, and that will drive his trade value down too.
Unless Houston really believes they can make Watson happy again there’s no logical reason to keep him in the fold. Waiting this out only hurts the team.
It’s what’s best for business.
The Texans are in the midst of a complete teardown and rebuilt, whether they want to admit it or not. It will take several years to bring the team back to prominence, and it’s just not helpful to have a great quarterback, and nothing else.
Look, Watson had one of the best seasons he’s ever had with Houston in 2020, and the team still finished 4-12. This is not an organization that needs a couple of tweaks to make the playoffs. There’s a need for star power spread across the 53, and the record shows that.
Trading Watson would expedite the process. While Houston would likely have a far worse quarterback under center in the immediate future, the long term would be far brighter by parting ways now. It also wins back some good will with agents, and players around the league who will now see that Houston respects players enough to listen to their wishes.
It might be difficult, but it’s time for the Texans to swallow their pride and trade away their superstar.