The Texans aren’t waiting to see whether quarterback Deshaun Watson asks for a trade. They’re pre-emptively putting out word that Watson will not be traded.
“Under no circumstances will the Texans trade Watson,” writes John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, adding that, even if Watson asks for a trade, “he’s not going anywhere.”
It’s an extreme position for the team to take, leaving the franchise with little wiggle room when it comes to dealing with its franchise quarterback. It also could prompt Watson to regard the team’s obviously-leaked position as a challenge, making him more likely to prove that he can and will get his way.
McClain says the Texans aren’t “foolish enough” to trade Watson. But what’s more foolish? Trading him for a potential mega-haul of draft picks from the highest bidder or flatly refusing to trade a player who makes it known that he wants out — and who may be willing to engage in a battle of wills that includes, for example, boycotting all voluntary offseason workouts and generally not behaving like the arrive-early, stay-late, hold-teammates-accountable, quasi-member of management that starting quarterbacks need to be?
If Watson shuts down and does the bare minimum until he gets what he wants, that’s not good for anyone. Eventually, it will force the Texans to do that which they currently claim they won’t.
Two years ago, Antonio Brown eventually tweeted his way out of Pittsburgh. Last year, Stefon Diggs made it happen in Minnesota with just one Twitter post. If Watson, who has shown a willingness to speak his mind, eventually does so with a public request for a change of venue, how can the Texans say that “under no circumstances” will he get what he wants?
So why say it? Possibly, the Texans are foolish enough to think it will work. More likely, the Texans are trying to ensure that, if they trade Watson, they won’t be simply giving him away.
But here’s the thing: If they make it known that Watson is available, the Texans can simply sit back and wait for the offers to pile up, because they will. The leverage that comes from the “we’re keeping him” posture (e.g., the Vikings saying they have “no intent” to trade Percy Harvin) won’t be needed.
Until knowing what Watson wants, it’s odd that the Texans would be drawing a line in the sand. Which simply makes it the most recent odd thing the Texans have done.