It has become widespread knowledge that Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans are not on solid terms.
With the organization stumbling to an 0-4 record through early October to start a season in which it would finish 4-12, the Texans decided to pull the plug on general manager and head coach Bill O'Brien and move in another direction. Romeo Crennel was tabbed as interim head coach for the remainder of the season.
Despite the team's lack of success, the Texans' franchise quarterback put together a career-best campaign with an NFL-leading 4,823 passing yards, as well as a career-high 33 passing touchdowns and career-low seven interceptions.
All of this production came without former All-Pro receiver teammate DeAndre Hopkins, who O'Brien traded to the Arizona Cardinals in March. Watson's frustrations with the Texans seemed to begin there, as O'Brien agreed to the deal — which sent running back David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick (defensive lineman Ross Blacklock) and 2021 fourth-round pick to Houston in exchange for Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-rounder (defensive lineman Rashard Lawrence) — without seeking Watson's opinion.
Still, the addition of wide receiver Brandin Cooks, who posted a team-high 81 catches, 1,150 yards and six touchdowns, helped. Plus, wideout Will Fuller V set career-high figures in receiving yards (879), receptions (53) and touchdowns (eight) in 11 games before he was suspended for the remainder of the regular season.
Then, in November, Watson and Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair reportedly met for dinner to discuss the best next steps for the franchise. McNair told ESPN "he welcomes Watson's input, respects his opinion and wants the star quarterback to be happy.”
Yet, the hiring decision of former Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio as general manager Jan. 7 was another setback. Caserio was not one of the potential candidates Watson had reportedly discussed with McNair.
In fact, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Watson was unhappy with how the process played out because, “Watson offered input on potential general manager candidates, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those endorsed by their franchise quarterback.”
As of now, Watson is not on speaking terms with the franchise.
“I've come to understand that it's been reported that Deshaun feels left out of the process, but he and I had several visits and I understood his point of view before meeting with candidates," McNair said Friday. "I've reached out to Deshaun about Nick's hire, and I look forward to him getting back to me when he returns from his vacation."
Meanwhile, former Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson publicly sided with Watson in a tweet published Tuesday, calling out the organization he spent a majority of his 14-year career playing for.
"If I’m @deshaunwatson I will stand my ground," Johnson wrote. "The Texans organization is known for wasting players careers. Since (executive vice president of football operations) Jack Easterby has walk into the building nothing good has happened in/for the organization and for some reason someone can’t seem to see what’s going on. Pathetic!!!"
Hopkins, who was not on good terms with O'Brien at the time of his trade in March, added his own input, emphasizing Johnson's point in support of his former quarterback.
"When Dre speak listen," Hopkins tweeted Tuesday.
With Watson's frustration level reportedly at "a 10," and the general managership of the franchise filled, the head coaching hire will likely be critical in potentially restoring the relationship between the two sides. Watson reportedly wanted the club to interview Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, but he was not included in the early interviews by the Texans. It has been since reported that Bieniemy has now been added to the Texans' list, but he no longer can be interviewed until after the Chiefs' playoff involvement ends, which might not be until after the Super Bowl.
For Hopkins, he is enjoying life in Arizona and the two-year contract extension he negotiated himself in September.