The Houston Texans Need to Take a $4.2 Million Gamble With Deshaun Watson’s Legal Trouble Looming

What began as a simple trade request has turned into an ugly fiasco for Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

Watson, the Texans’ starting quarterback, is currently being investigated after over 20 women accused him of sexual assault and harassment. With Watson’s future uncertain and the NFL draft rapidly approaching, the Texans have to begin preparing for a risky but necessary move.

Deshaun Watson’s legal trouble is still looming large for the Texans

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in 2020.
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. | Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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The Deshaun Watson saga has taken so many trips and turns that it requires a quick recap.

According to the NFL’s official website, Watson has been accused by 22 women of sexual assault and misconduct during massage sessions. The lawsuits, as of publication, have all been civil cases. Two accusers spoke out publicly on Tuesday, April 6. 

Nike recently suspended its relationship with Watson. Beats by Dre, the popular headphone company, dropped the quarterback. 

Reliant Energy, which lends its name to the Texans’ stadium, announced they would not renew their partnership with Watson. Watson served as a brand ambassador for Reliant.

As of publication, the NFL had not suspended Watson or placed him on the Commissioner Exempt list.

Houston can no longer tie its future to Deshaun Watson

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At this point, the Houston Texans cannot attach their future to Deshaun Watson.

Before the first allegations of misconduct, Watson had already wanted out from Houston. The Texans were firm in saying they intended to keep him.

Things have greatly changed in recent weeks. Houston signed veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor, a Pro Bowl selection in Buffalo, as Watson’s potential replacement.

The Texans also traded the 200th overall pick in April’s NFL draft to the Cincinnati Bengals for Ryan Finley, a backup quarterback, and the 231st overall pick.

With Finely and Taylor in the mix, Houston can complete their quarterback room by drafting a signal-caller this spring.

What quarterbacks are realistic options for the Texans?

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Barring a trade, the Houston Texans cannot select Deshaun Watson’s potential replacement until the 67th overall pick. By that point, the draft’s top quarterbacks, including Trevor Lawrence, will all be long gone. 

One of Florida’s Kyle Trask, Texas A&M’s Kellen Mond, and Stanford’s Davis Mills might still be available then. Mond, who is from San Antonio, holds Texas A&M’s all-time records in passing yards (9,611) and passing touchdowns (71). 

Because the Texans have other pressing needs, including receiver and on the defensive line, they may want to wait to add a quarterback. Jamie Newman, the former Wake Forest starter who opted out of the 2020 season, makes sense if he is still available around pick No. 109, which is where the Texans would draft in the fourth round.

Newman, who transferred to Georgia before opting out amid the coronavirus pandemic, completed 60.9% of his passes at Wake Forest in 2019 for 2,868 yards, 26 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 12 games. He also ran for 574 yards and six touchdowns on 3.2 yards per attempt.

In his pre-draft scouting report, NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein praised Newman’s arm talent and athleticism. 

“While there are clearly issues to work on, he does have the ability to operate in a variety of offensive looks. Newman could take a significant jump forward if he can get through his reads more quickly and learn to work in rhythm. He has the ceiling of an eventual NFL starter, but his floor is lower than teams might like.”

If Houston drafted Newman at 109th overall, Spotrac estimates the total value of that pick at $4.23 million.

The 2021 NFL draft begins Thursday, April 29, and ends on Saturday, May 1. 

All contract figures courtesy of Spotrac.