In normal circumstances, the idea of the Texans trading QB Deshaun Watson would be the type of thing laughed off at some kid dreaming in Madden. But what makes this different is Watson’s level of anger at the organization. If he’s upset enough to pay fines and forego game checks, and he’s already made $40 million at the age of 25, he could force his way out the same way Carson Palmer did with the Bengals.
“Watson represents an example of player empowerment like we see in the NBA,” a longtime NFL executive tells the Athletic’s Mike Sando. “Because he has enough money in the bank, he can say, ‘No, you are going to do it the way I want to do it or else you do not have me.’ This is presuming he believes the DeAndre Hopkins trade and other moves were irrational, and the GM was hired in a ridiculous way, and his feelings are heartfelt. If those things are true, he can absolutely get traded where he wants to get traded, because of his no-trade clause.”
Unlike other leagues, this kind of player movement is rarer in the NFL because most contracts run longer than the average career. When push comes to shove, most players will take the money and make it work wherever that is. But Watson could be one of the rare cases to do otherwise.
“Usually, it takes an emotional component beyond the business component for a player to stick to his guns,” the exec said. “[New Texans GM Nick Caserio] understandably can take the approach he does not believe a player will pass up the kind of money he has on the table, but if I’m Watson, maybe I think I can hold my breath longer than he can, because I’m 25 years old and I have a lot of great years left.”
Sando mentions Watson is represented by agent David Mulugheta who helped orchestrate CB Jalen Ramsey‘s trade exit from the Jaguars to the Rams. He’ll have a harder time with Watson if they decide to go that route, as Sando quoted a few more executives with a more conventional view on the situation.
“I would never trade him — never, ever, ever,” another exec said. “If you are that pissed, then stop playing football, retire. What has Watson done? Caserio could say, ‘Look, play your ass off and in a few years, if this isn’t what you like, then we can address it, but you signed this contract, and when Bill O’Brien got fired, you weren’t disappointed, either, so you knew what you were signing up for.”
- Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk reports that 10 different NFL coaching staffs declined the opportunity to coach the upcoming 2021 Senior Bowl due to concerns with college players being subject to “more relaxed” COVID-19 protocols.
- Two staffs did agree to coach the game, however, with the Carolina Panthers (pick No. 8) and the Miami Dolphins (picks No. 3 and No. 18) accepting. (Field Yates)
- Panthers HC Matt Rhule was thrilled about the opportunity: “We’re thrilled to coach at the Senior Bowl. Every year, Jim Nagy and his staff put together the best showcase of college talent in the nation, and we’re really excited to lead and get to know a team of this year’s top draft prospects.” (David Newton)
- The Senior Bowl will be on January 30 with a week of practice beforehand.
Former Titans and Rams HC Jeff Fisher said he has a “great deal of interest” in the University of Tennessee’s head coaching position, should it become available.
“If for some reason Coach Pruitt is no longer the head coach at the University of Tennessee, yes I would have a great deal of interest in that program,” said Fisher, via George Plaster.