By just about any objective measure, Deshaun Watson is one of the best quarterbacks in the world. The issue is that the Houston Texans are in the midst of major turmoil right now — the team went 4-12 this year, fired head coach Bill O’Brien, and seems to have absolutely zero idea how to move forward despite the fact that it has an MVP-caliber signal caller.
This has led to some speculation that Watson is unhappy about a number of things, with rumblings making the rounds that suggest he could want out. In fact, a new report from Greg Bishop and Jenny Vrentas of Sports Illustrated indicates that Watson’s teammates are ready to get behind him, no matter what the future might hold, with one particular moment from after the team’s final game looming large.
As he and Watt, two of the most respected players in the NFL, walked off the field following the 41–38 Week 17 loss to the Titans, the final indignity in a 4–12 season, Inside the NFL cameras caught a dejected Watt telling the quarterback, “I’m sorry, we wasted one of your years.” Many players, according to the same sources, felt the same way as Watt—and support Watson’s doing what’s best for himself moving forward.
The reporting goes on to indicate that Watson may be ready to move on altogether, citing a recent incident in which Texans legend Andre Johnson made it clear that the best thing for him is his new team.
On Tuesday, Johnson, the lone member of the franchise’s Ring of Honor, posted on Twitter that Watson should stand his ground, writing that “nothing good has happened” since Easterby’s hire. When Watson saw the tweet, the first for a person of Johnson’s significance to name Easterby directly, he laughed. Asked why he might find a tweet that heavy in sentiment funny, one of the people close to Watson says, “He just wants out.” Then Watson watched the Houston Rockets play Tuesday night—when he posed for a photo with Johnson, which Johnson posted to his Instagram page, reiterating the “stand your ground” message from hours earlier. Only this time, Watson was in the frame.
Watson and the Texans inked a four-year, $160 million contract last September, and while that would be a major financial load for any team to shoulder, 25-year-old Pro Bowl quarterbacks do not become available all the time. Last year, Watson led the NFL in passing, throwing for a league-best 4,823 yards.