Where did the Texans go wrong with Deshaun Watson? originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
If Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston, as has been reported, you don’t have to look far for a reason why.
His discontent could’ve started his rookie year when then-team owner Bob McNair used an analogy of "inmates running the prison" when discussing players kneeling during the national anthem. Or, it could’ve been the reported power struggle sowed atop the organization by Jack Easterby, a former Patriots chaplain, in the years since McNair died and his son, Cal, took over. Or the decision-making by that front office, as Watson ascended to become one of the league’s best quarterbacks, in trading away top talent like Jadeveon Clowney -- a bungled move that didn’t net the team nearly what it should have for a Pro Bowl edge rusher -- and DeAndre Hopkins -- a move necessitated because of a divide between the All-Pro receiver and a head coach who was fired just months later.
Two months before the Hopkins trade, that same coach, Bill O’Brien, inexplicably was given additional duties as the team’s general manager, replacing the previous GM who was fired less than two years into the job. In that role, O’Brien was allowed to deal Watson's best receiving threat for peanuts before getting the boot himself, just four games into the 2020 season.
If Watson had been done with the team at that point, it would've been understandable, but the list of what's been reported of the Texans' dysfunction goes on.
The final straw, apparently, was Houston’s failure to give consideration to Watson’s preferred candidates in the process of hiring a new general manager. So now, after four years as a band-aid for one of the most poorly-run franchises in football, Watson is believed by several people around the organization to have played his final game for the Texans, as reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Watson’s anger level went from a two after the Hopkins trade in March to a 10 after the team hired Nick Caserio as general manager earlier this month, according to Schefter. It was a sentiment Watson seemed to hint at in a tweet quoting a lyric from rapper Future.
Watson is the type of player every team hopes to land -- a franchise-altering quarterback who can be the face for years to come, a Heisman Trophy finalist and national championship winner, over 14,000 passing yards and 100 touchdowns through his first four years which include three Pro Bowl nods, the current career completion percentage leader -- but there aren't enough players of his caliber to go around.
All the Texans had to do was put the right pieces around him and not piss him off. All they’ve managed to do since drafting him 12th overall in 2017 is the exact opposite. If he does force their hands in a trade, it would be an unprecedented power shift in the NFL.
Though fans in the city of Houston surely would like Watson to stick around -- especially after recently losing another star, James Harden -- many have sided with him in this dispute, likely because his frustration is also theirs. Some reportedly planned to march on his behalf in disgust of how the Texans have mishandled yet another star. Watson asked them not to, heeding to coronavirus concerns.
Former Texans players also have sided with Watson. Andre Johnson, one of the best players in team history, tweeted that if he were Watson, he would stand his ground. “The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on," Johnson said.
Former Texans quarterback Sage Rosenfels agreed with Johnson’s tweet. Hopkins co-signed the message, too.
Watson himself has tweeted a few times since his grudge with the team became public, mostly cryptic lines that may or may not be directed at the Texans. One particular tweet, however, set off the trend of fans photoshopping him into their favorites teams’ jerseys. It was another song lyric, this time pulling from Kevin Gates, but the message absolutely applies to the Texans and is one Watson seems to be taking to heart.
“Big Bro told me when they painted you a picture, Don't let 'em paint you another picture,” he tweeted.
This is who the Texans have been from the day Watson arrived, and until they prove otherwise, with his career in their hands, he has to assume this is who they’ll always be.