Couch: Deshaun Watson Is More Than Just A Player, And Should Have A Say On Texans’ Future

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It’s hard to know for sure where Deshaun Watson is coming from. He has kept the details of his protest private. But if the 25-year-old face of the Houston Texans just wanted to have a voice in the discussion about who his team’s next coach and general manager would be, then he should have a say.

CEO Cal McNair shows a lack of understanding of the modern athlete for not allowing it.

Watson is hope and optimism and good citizenship on a team that is run by dysfunction and disconnection from its own fan base. But this is an era of player involvement, player partnership. And McNair should have realized that to deny Watson even a seat at the table would be the same as pushing him out the door.

Watson supposedly wasn’t happy that the Texans hired general manager Nick Caserio without his input. And Caserio thought he was smoothing things over with Watson when he said, “We have zero interest in trading the player.’’

That was a message sent back from the 1970s, when the great movie North Dallas Forty came out and portrayed football players basically as meat.

That isn’t today. Watson isn’t just “the player,’’ as if you can’t tell him apart from anyone else on the team with a helmet. He is Deshaun Watson.

At first I had sort of been on the Texans’ side of this thing. I mean, it was just five months ago that Watson did sign a four-year, $156 million contract extension, including $74.9 million guaranteed. He became the league’s second highest-paid player.

So what’s the big deal if he doesn’t get to say who he’d like as the GM? Shut up and play, rich guy. In sports, getting paid big is getting respect. Besides, it would be nice to see him stick it out and help build the franchise rather than following the NBA route, running to another city and setting up another team.

TMZ asked legendary NFL coach Dick Vermeil what he thought the Texans should do with Watson, keep him or trade him.

“I think they change his diapers, OK?’’ Vermeil said. “Nowhere in his contract does it say that he’s involved in making the decisions of who coaches or who leads the organization.”

Of course, Vermeil is 84 and from a different era.

The Texans are a terrible organization. They were able to cut out the cancer that was coach and GM Bill O’Brien, who traded stud receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a mediocre running back and a bag of peanuts.

In Houston, everyone is always trying to show who’s the boss. And it didn’t work with O’Brien.

So why not let Watson speak and try to bring things back together?

Well, it seems unlikely the Texans will let another stud, Watson, go without making a real trade. That’s because the start of the NFL quarterback-go-round became official over the weekend when Detroit traded quarterback Matt Stafford to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Rams way overpaid for Stafford, giving up a third-round draft choice, two first-round  picks and starting quarterback Jared Goff.

Goff is taking too much heat for his play. And the Lions are so bad they were never going to win with Stafford anyway. Now they can draft away while giving Goff a couple of years to show whether he can be the QB of the future there.

But as good as Stafford is, that was a huge load for a guy in his 30s going into the final third of his career. Watson is going to command much more.

John McClain, who has covered the NFL for the Houston Chronicle for the past 45 years, tweeted that if the Texans are going to give up Watson, “They’ll want 2 ones, 2 twos and 2 young defensive starters, at the least. Watson, 25, under contract, great QB, team leader, beloved by fans, pillar of the community.’’

With half the NFL teams unhappy with their quarterbacks, it wouldn’t surprise me if the Texans really were offered that much for Watson. Of course, let’s just say that the New York Jets offer up all of that: If Watson goes there, what will the Jets do to get players to go around him if they don’t have draft picks?

Reports say that Watson requested a trade after he had to read about Caserio’s hiring on social media and after the Texans weren’t interested in Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy — Watson’s choice — for the head coaching job

The Texans are under no obligation to give him one. He’s under contract through 2025 and, according to ESPN’s figuring, the Texans could possibly franchise-tag him for three years too, which would give them control of his rights through the 2028 season.

So if they want to prove a point of who’s in control, they can do it. I guess Watson’s option would be to retire and then the Texans would miss out on all they could get for him. Or he could be miserable for the next eight years and make everyone around him miserable, too, the way James Harden did until the NBA Houston Rockets felt they had to get rid of him.

I don’t see Watson doing that, being that unprofessional. He might just be stuck with the hopes that the Texans will see this as a chance to start rebuilding, and not just to show who’s boss.

Watson could always unload on team owners publicly. But for now, he protests quietly. He scrubbed the word “Texans’’ from his social media accounts, replacing it with “athlete.’’

He should’ve said “player.’’

Written by Greg Couch

Greg earned the 2007 Peter Lisagor Award as the best sports columnist in the Chicagoland area for his work with the Chicago Sun-Times, where he started as a college football writer in 1997 before becoming a general columnist in 2003. He also won a Lisagor in 2016 for his commentary in and The Guardian.

Couch penned articles and columns for Report, AOL Fanhouse, and The Sporting News and contributed as a writer and on-air analyst for and Fox Sports 1 TV. In his journalistic roles, Couch has covered the grandest stages of tennis from Wimbledon to the Olympics, among numerous national and international sporting spectacles. He also won first place awards from the U.S. Tennis Writers Association for his event coverage and column writing on the sport in 2010.


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  1. No, he is a player like everyone else. One that is under contract (that he signed 4 months ago) and has no real leverage. There are no teams that Deshaun is will to accept a trade to that has enough resources to initiate a trade OR the ones that do will have to give up the very resources they need to be great with Deshaun thereby making it an excercise in futility for that team and Deshaun. Suck it up Watson, you are stuck making millions and going .500 at best for the foreseeable future.

  2. So the GM called Watson a player and now you are on his side because he’s not a player he’s Deshaun Watson. Fck that noise. Watson is a player, not an owner and unless he was given an ownership stake in the contract that he signed he needs to STFU. Fck him, I hope he gets traded to the Jets.

  3. I agree with the two comments. Sorry not sorry but the team owner and GM make decisions not Deshawn Watson. What makes Watson qualified to be involved in these decisions? His athleticism, well when was the last time a GM was hired for his athleticism? Further, just because a player prefers a coach so what. Watson, like every other human being on earth, is looking out for Watson, so what may be good for him won’t be good for the team.

  4. New age football players for the New Age of the NFL? I don’t think so. Deshaun needs only take a look at what Green Bay did to their generational talent, Aaron Rodgers…they drafted a Mountain West honorable mention QB with THEIR FIRST ROUND PICK when they could have gotten an impact receiver to help Davante Adams in the pass game and get them to the SUPE.
    If GB “management” can do that to Aa-ron, and clearly not get his input before Draft Day, then Deshaun should take that teaching moment and suck it up instead of playing the diva.
    LeBrow James is on the backside of the mountain, but once he’s gone the Golden Age of the diva athlete will be fading into oblivion, and Deshaun won’t have a role model any longer. Better he should view Rodgers as the role model for QB play in the NFL.

  5. Clint, definitely agree that the Texans’ organization has been a joke for a while now. Also, can see Watson’s frustration if he was told he would have some type of input and then didn’t get it. Having read Andre Johnson’s rant, it seems that the constant within the organization the last few years other than O’Brien, was Easterby, a New England legacy and it seems there is a ot of distrust with his abilities. Why is McNair standing by him? Isn’t he a pastor by trade? Might be a nice guy, but if he stood behind O’Brien’s decisions, and now seems to be pissing off a lot of folks, why are they standing by him? He seems the perfect sacrifice. Hasn’t produced anything, pissing folks off, why is he there? No matter what, they can’t trade Watson – I wouldn’t. He can retire, pay back his bonus $, and maybe I trade him next year if the offer is right. But why go thru all that when there is a compromise to be made, by axing someone who hasn’t exactly excelled in his role, plus has a knack for pissing folks off.

  6. I’ll put it this way an incompetent owner/GM/coach has more knowledge at the owner/GM/coach position than a 25 athletic QB would.

    If DeShaun wants to run the team…become a owner/GM/coach…otherwise play QB,

  7. If the players start to run things in the nfl, say goodbye to its popularity. If I’m an owner who spends a billion plus to purchase a team, I don’t want one of my employees (player) dictating personnel moves. These players feel so entitled these days.

  8. If he stays, he should have input on how the offense works and what he wants to do more of and less of etc. he can even suggest types of players to bring in, but leaving and starting over somewhere else would be a struggle i’m not sure he has thought about.

    he is gifted, but stats just don’t tell you enough. he won 4 games and played against a lot of soft zones to gather stats.

    he has had players. great ones in his first 4 years except this year. i don’t think analysts are being honest about what Watson does well and doesn’t.

    he rarely stands up straight in the pocket similar to Mike Vick, but Vick was far more talented and quicker and faster and he failed.

    he needs to look at film of Randal Cunningham 2.0 as a less athletic passer. start doing that in Houston.

    just my armchair analysis.

  9. He’s just a player. That’s all. “Graveyards are filled with people who believed they weren’t expendable.” — Ron Wolfe, former Green Bay Packer General Manager

  10. If average Joe averages $50k/year for a 40 year work life, he will make $2,000,000. Mr. Watson makes about $39,000,000 per year – 19.5 times a lifetime of work for Joe. His guaranteed money ($75 million) is 37.5 lifetimes for Joe. How about playing football.

  11. I’ll admit that Cal McNair is an idiot when compared to his late father. Mr. Watson is a great and talented athlete. He is truly gifted. His emotions don’t give him any insight into running a billion dollar business.

    Beyond that, Mr. Couch shouldn’t be an employee here. I cancelled my subscription to ESPN and the Athletic because the writing there became this stupid.

  12. I feel like a lot of the Deshaun Watson vitriol in the comment section is likely coming from people who live outside of Houston. If you live here, you know how colossally stupid Cal McNair is. And how toxic Jack easterby is. When Bill O’Brien was shown the door, I think every person associated with the Texans organization breathed a sigh of relief. Players, coaches, front office people, and fans. It was supposed to be a new beginning. Cal formed a committee of smart NFL people and former players (including Andre Johnson) to guide the search for a new GM and new HC. He told Deshaun he would be consulted on the hiring process. Then Cal completely forgot that whole committee thing, and hired Easterby’s boy Caserio out of the blue. And rather than interview reasonable HC candidates, Cal was hellbent on interviewing a bunch of really old dudes who no other team in the NFL would have even considered. Jim Caldwell, Leslie Frazier, Dennis Green’s corpse…and hired some dude nobody else in the league even considered a HC candidate. Cal has allowed Jack Easterby to burn down the entire organization, and left Deshaun as the last man standing. Through his actions, Cal has told Deshaun “we’re going to waste the next 5 years of your career”. The ship is on fire and mostly submerged. Deshaun needs to look out for himself because the Texans organization damn sure isn’t. Deshaun is an incredible talent, a first-class citizen, and has done so much to contribute to the community here in Houston. But unfortunately the Texans organization has failed him miserably. I’m a Texans season ticket holder (probably not for much longer), and I support Deshaun getting out while he can. No Super Bowls are going to be won around here anytime soon.

  13. Jay, what does Easterby have on McNair? He hardly has a track record of success since he joined the organization – he was around for the Hopkins trade, wasn’t he? With Caserio on board, what does Easterby actually do? If I was the owner and I had an employee that gave up a top WR for a broken down RB and what, a 2nd round pick, and consistently pisses off the folks I need to deliver results on the field, it’d be an easy choice – bye bye Jack. If he’s not the problem, then Mr. Watson is going to have to decide if leaving is worth sitting out a year, paying back a large sum of bonus money, and then going to a team that will have to gut their drafts for the next 2-3 years to get me.

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