Deshaun Watson’s Texans departure now seems inevitable

The end of Deshaun Watson’s Texans tenure seems like just a matter of time.

“There is a growing sense from people in and around the Texans’ organization that Deshaun Watson has played his last snap for the team,” ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted on Sunday. “It’s early in the off-season, there’s a lot of time left, but Watson’s feelings cannot and should not be underestimated.”

A separation seems inevitable at this point amid a rash of news about Watson’s frustration with the Texans, cryptic smoke signals over social media and trade rumors.

However, despite the deteriorating relationship with the organization, Pro Football Talk reported on Sunday that the disgruntled quarterback hasn’t formally requested a trade quite yet.

“I was on a 2 then I took it to 10,” Watson tweeted Friday, nearly identical to an ESPN report from last weekend which said Watson’s anger level was a “2” when the team traded DeAndre Hopkins last year before surging this offseason.

Watson’s discontent is directed at Houston’s leadership, namely owner Cal McNair and VP of football operations Jack Easterby. McNair promised to include the three-time Pro Bowler in the process of filling the head coach and general manager vacancies left after Bill O’Brien was fired four games into the 2020 season.

Watson — who is under contract through 2025 — was reportedly not consulted about the hiring of new general manager Nick Caserio. The 25-year-old requested that the front office interview Robert Saleh — the former 49ers defensive coordinator and new Jets head coach — which was unheeded. He also made a push for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who has received high praise from Patrick Mahomes.

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson
Getty Images

The Texans dragged their feet in requesting an interview with Bieniemy and will have to wait until after Kansas City is eliminated from the playoffs or after the Super Bowl due to anti-tampering league rules.

In a lengthy Sports Illustrated story about the Texans’ chaos under Easterby, a person close to Watson said of the quarterback, “He just wants out.”

After a highly successful college career, the Clemson Tiger joined the Texans in 2017 as the No. 12 overall pick in the draft. He has completed 67.8 percent of his passes for 14,539 yards, 104 touchdowns, 36 interceptions and has accrued 1,677 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in his first four NFL seasons. The Texans are 29-35 in the regular season and have advanced to the playoffs twice since Watson joined the team, but finished with a disappointing 4-12 record this season.

Another pain point for Watson is the dearth of a “winning culture” in the organization — akin to his time at Clemson, whom he led to a CFP National Championship win in 2016.

“We just need a whole culture shift,” Watson said after the season when asked about the head coaching search. “We need a leader so we can follow that leader … too many different ideas and too many people thinking that they have this power, and it’s not like that.”

Watson signed a four-year, $156 million contract in September which carries a $15.94 million cap hit and $67.14 million dead cap hit in 2021 according to Spotrac.

Meanwhile, Watson appeared to be in New York City on Sunday, according to posts on his Instagram stories, after vacationing with his girlfriend.

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