Deshaun Watson All But Gone, Texans ‘Open For Business’ to Deal No. 3 Pick

The Houston Texans can take a bold step toward returning the franchise to its era of perennial playoff appearances by taking advantage of the No. 3 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

But what exactly does general manager Nick Caserio think is a bold step? If you listen to the man, you can’t help but come away thinking that No. 3 pick is going to be part of a bold transaction between now and late April.

“Always open for business,” Caserio told Houston’s SportsRadio 610 on Tuesday. “You never want to limit yourself. I’ve always been open-minded when it comes to the draft. … Every team and every individual has a different philosophy. ‘We’re not gonna trade, we’re always going to pick, we’re not going to move.’ I think we’re a little bit more open-minded, progressive thinking, move up and down. And it’s not just move to move.”

“We’re rolling up our sleeves right now, going through that draft process. There’s a number of a good players that will be available. Again, we’re open for business on anything.”

That might seem like standard-issue GM-speak three months before the draft. But consider the man who uttered those words, his past trading tendencies, and the overall state of his team, and you have to take these words seriously.

It seems more likely than ever that the Houston Texans are going to trade the No. 3 pick in the draft.

Caserio has never been shy about trading draft picks, in Houston and New England

Texans GM Nick Caserio could be shopping the No. 3 pick in the NFL Draft
Nick Caserio | Bob Levey/Getty Images

If what Caserio told the radio station on Tuesday didn’t perk up the ears of general managers across the league, consider what Caserio said last Friday, in his press conference announcing the dismissal of head coach David Culley, when asked about the upcoming NFL Draft.

“We have the third overall pick or whatever that is,” Caserio said. “Whether or not we stay at three, that’s a whole separate discussion, but we’ll talk about the draft a little bit later.”

This is all a common theme for Caserio, who worked in the New England Patriots front office for two decades before taking over the Texans in 2021. The Patriots under Bill Belichick are notorious for trading out of the first round of the NFL Draft, although mostly from the bottom of the round, not the No. 3 overall pick.

Caserio was not shy about trading in his first draft with the Texans last April. He traded the 109th overall pick in Round 4 and the 158th overall pick in Round 5, along with a 2022 fourth-round pick to the Carolina Panthers, in exchange for the 89th overall pick at the end of the third round.

Caserio used that pick on Michigan wide receiver Nico Collins, who had 33 catches for 446 yards and one touchdown in 14 games as a rookie this past season.

Caserio made two other trades during last year’s draft. But the trade that could make the biggest impact on the team has yet to come to fruition.

The Texans need resolution about Deshaun Watson, but it remains a tricky process

The Texans are still carrying quarterback Deshaun Watson on their roster, although it is increasingly clear that Watson, who is dealing a myriad of legal issues and could still end up suspended by the NFL pending those outcomes, has played his last game with Houston.

The Texans reportedly were close to a deal at the trade deadline that would have sent Watson to the Miami Dolphins, but the trade ultimately fell through.

Caserio will once again look to move the troubled quarterback via trade this offseason, in the hopes of receiving draft capital in return. Watson’s legal uncertainty complicates those efforts, but in the meantime, the team may look to keep Davis Mills under center for another season.

Mills, a third-round pick in 2021 who started 11 games for the Texans, including the final five in place of Tyrod Taylor, completed 66.8 percent of his passes for 2,664 yards and 16 touchdowns, with 10 interceptions.

The free agent and draft classes for quarterbacks this year is not strong, so the Texans may choose to give Davis a full offseason to prepare as the starter and build up the roster at other positions in the meantime.

If the Texans keep the pick, expect them to take an offensive lineman

If Mills is the quarterback choice to lead the Texans into 2022, and if Caserio does not trade away the No. 3 pick, a leading candidate to hear his name called by the commissioner at No. 3 is Alabama offensive tackle Evan Neal.

Most likely, the Texans do trade the pick in hopes of gaining multiple picks lower in the draft in order to fill many needs instead of going for a home run at just one position.

“I think we’ve always been a little more open-minded, progressively thinking, move up and down,” Caserio said Tuesday. “It’s not just move to move. And I think trades specific to the draft are always driven by A) player availability, B) where are you moving, what are you moving away from, and then C) what are you getting in return in terms of assets that could potentially fill out the rest of your team?”

Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference

RELATED: What the Houston Texans’ Plan of Attack Must Be for the 2022 NFL Offseason