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The Houston Texans made a franchise-changing decision last offseason, trading Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns. The team’s issues with its superstar started well before that, though. Watson demanded a trade in 2021, sat out the entire season, and was accused of sexual misconduct by 20-plus women. After shipping the problematic QB to the Browns, the Texans surely thought they were done with the headache. However, Watson is the gift that keeps on giving, and the Texans just lost a 5th-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft because of him.

The Texans are still paying a price for Deshaun Watson

The Texans traded Deshaun Watson for a boatload of picks slated to help the 1999 expansion team rebuild from the ground up.

In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Texans used those picks to draft or trade for picks to draft offensive guard Kenyon Green, wide receiver John Metchie III, and running back Dameon Pierce. In 2023, Houston has Cleveland’s No. 12 pick to go along with its own No. 2 selection.

What the team doesn’t have now is a fifth-round pick or $175,000, thanks to Watson.

This is because that is what the NFL is taking from the Texans in fines after the league ruled the franchise circumvented the salary cap in 2020 by paying for a $26,000 gym membership for Watson.

NFL insider Adam Schefter reports that “Houston believes [this] is an accounting error that dates back [to] Deshaun Watson’s training during COVID.” He also noted, “The Texans believe it gave them no salary-cap advantage and they were simply paying $26,000 for Deshaun Watson to train at a local facility while theirs was closed during COVID.”

While a fifth-round pick and $175,000 isn’t a huge penalty for an NFL franchise, it has to sting that the team is still paying the price for the damage Deshaun Watson left in his wake.

How the Texans can keep rebuilding in the 2023 NFL Draft

Houston Texans, Deshaun Watson, Cleveland Browns, 2023 NFL draft, draft pick
Deshaun Watson in 2020 | Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Despite no longer having their fifth-round pick, the Texans still have two top-12 picks in Round 1, a pick in Round 2, and two picks in Round 3 (thanks again, Browns!).

Last year, the players that the Texans got out of the Deshaun Watson Browns trade were underwhelming overall. RB Dameon Pierce was one of the best rookie backs in the league in 2022, rushing for 939 yards in just 13 games.

However, Kenyon Green was one of the lowest-ranked guards in the league in 2022, and John Metchie III was heartbreakingly diagnosed with leukemia. Luckily, Metchie is doing much better now, per Sports Illustrated, and could return to the team as soon as April.

Now the Texans have to make the right decision with their 2023 NFL Draft picks to get the franchise headed back in the right direction. The No. 2 pick is especially crucial as the team will use it to choose a new franchise QB to replace Deshaun Watson.

Deciding between Alabama’s Bryce Young (and likely trading up one sport to get him), Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud, Florida’s Anthony Richardson, and Kentucky’s Will Levis. That decision will not only determine the next five years of Texans’ success or failure, but it will also likely determine whether general manager Nick Caserio has a job come 2025.

At pick No. 12, the Texans could go in several directions.

They could take a wideout to pair with their new QB if TCU’s Quentin Johnston is still on the board. If not, they could start their defensive rebuild — under new, defensive-minded head coach DeMeco Ryans — with a player like Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy or Georgia EDGE Nolan Smith.

Either way, the Texans are finally moving on from the Deshaun Watson trade, as long as the most recent NFL fine and draft pick surrender were the last time the QB hurts his former franchise.  


Browns’ $230M Deshaun Watson Contract Mistake Keeps on Hurting With Historic Cap Hit