Texans general manager Nick Caserio emphasized there is no change surrounding the status of Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson has a standing trade request and a no-trade clause in his $156 million contract and no trade is imminent, according to multiple league sources not authorized to speak publicly.
The Texans have Watson on their 53-man roster and are prepared to have him on the team as their third quarterback and inactive every week if necessary, according to league sources. Under that scenario, Watson, who reported to training camp to avoid $50,000 daily fines, would be paid his full $10.54 million base salary.
"I'm not going to get into speculation about what could or could not happen," Caserio said when asked about Watson's status. "Each day, we take in information, process it and we go about our business and try to make the right decision at the time. That's what we've done. He's on our roster. He's on our team. Again, what does that mean going forward? We're going to take it one day at a time."
Caserio said that the Texans are going to be deliberate about everything they do, including this unresolved situation.
“Each day we’re gonna make the decision we think is best," Caserio said. "Again, it’s a one-step process. Deshaun’s been here every day. He’s been in training camp every day. He’s been in the building, he’s been in meetings, he’s been around his teammates. We’re going to take it one day at a time.
"I’m not going to get into a lot of speculation about what has happened, what didn’t happen. It’s a waste of everybody’s time. Quite frankly, I think there’s more important things to talk about. We’re gonna take it one day at a time, we’re gonna do what we feel is best for our team and organization. I would say there’s no finite answer, no definitive answer here at this point and that’s how we’re gonna handle it.”
Caserio declined to discuss a potential scenario of Watson opting to play for them again. That is regarded as an extremely unlikely possibility, according to sources, given Watson's discontent with the organization and intention not to play for them again.
Caserio emphasized that Watson hasn't been an issue with the team in their daily interactions.
"Again, I respect the question," Caserio said. "I'm not going to get into a lot of speculation. Any conversation we have with the players we're going to keep that between ourselves. I've had multiple conversations with Deshaun at training camp. He hasn't been a problem. He hasn't been a disruption. We're going to take it one day at a time."
While the Miami Dolphins have talked with the Texans, there hasn't been an offer commensurate with what the AFC South franchise wants in exchange for one of the most dynamic players in the game. The Texans want at least three first-round draft picks, two second-round draft picks and players to consider parting ways with a player as talented as Watson.
Although this is a somewhat awkward situation, Watson remains a popular figure in the Texans' locker room as he attends meetings and training sessions while not participating in practice most of the time since reporting to training camp.
"I've said from Day 1 that Deshaun Watson is part of this team," Texans starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor said after the initial 53-man roster was filed with the league. "We'll continue to handle business accordingly.He’s a friend of mine. He’s a teammate of mine.
"And we’re all in it to put our best foot forward and to do whatever it takes to to help the team win. And that shows and that comes in different roles on this team and we’ll all do our part to make sure that everyone’s on board."
Watson, who's facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct and/or sexual assault and 10 criminal complaints from the Houston Police Department while not being charged with a crime and a parallel NFL investigation, isn't being placed on the NFL commissioner-exempt list at this time. That status is unlikely to change, unless he's charged with a crime.
"The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active," the NFL said in a statement at the start of training camp. "We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation. As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy. At this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities.
The Texans aren't interested in making conditional picks part of a potential trade for Watson. The reason other teams are broaching that idea is because of Watson's unresolved legal situation. It may take as long as a few more months before a decision is made on whether a grand jury will or will not be presented a case with no decision reached yet on if an indictment will be sought.
Watson's attorney, Rusty Hardin, recently denied any wrongdoing on behalf of the NFL player. Hardin said that Watson has yet to speak to NFL investigators, including former Manhattan, N.Y. sex crimes prosecutor Lisa Friel, which is customary in personal-conduct policy investigations.
It's entirely possible Watson could remain on the Texans' roster until the 2022 offseason. Watson is due a $35 million base salary in 2022 as part of the $156 million contract extension he signed last year. That was a year ago and before Watson became completely disenchanted with the Texans organization for multiple reasons, including not getting to give the input he wanted and was told he would have into the hiring process of Caserio and coach David Culley.
Watson led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards last season and passed for a career-high 33 touchdown passes.
For now, though, he's the Texans' third-string quarterback behind Taylor and rookie Davis Mills.
Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128