A Timeline of Deshaun Watson’s Falling Out With the Texans

The Texans quarterback could be taking his talents to a new team for the 2021 season. Here's how the relationship between Deshaun Watson and Houston soured.

Deshaun Watson Texans Bengals Bench 2020

HOUSTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 27: Quarterback Deshaun Watson #4 of the Houston Texans looks on from the bench late in the fourth quarter of the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at NRG Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)

Deshaun Watson Texans Bengals Bench 2020

It was all good just a year ago.

The Texans were up by 24 on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional Round, with fans salivating and rubbing their hands as they eyed a run to the franchise’s first Super Bowl appearance. There was ample reason for optimism about the long-term future, too -- Houston had two young superstars in quarterback Deshaun Watson and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins.

NFL followers know what happened next. The Chiefs did Chiefs things. Bill O’Brien did Bill O’Brien things. Then Texans limped to a 4-12 finish during the 2020 season. And now Watson seems all but destined to play for a new team next year. 

We already broke down where Watson might end up next season if the Texans do indeed trade him, but how did the franchise and it's quarterback fall apart? When did things turn sour with the dynamic 25-year-old signal-caller? Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

2017: Houston Drafts Watson

Deshaun Watson 20178 NFL Draft

2018: The Breakout

Deshaun Watson.

Texans Blow Big Lead to Chiefs

Watson had another phenomenal season in 2019 and led Houston to a 10-6 record and AFC South title. In the wild-card round, he pulled off magic to lead Houston back from a 16-0 deficit to the Buffalo Bills. With the game on the line, Watson made one of the most astounding plays you’ll ever see:

Flex on ’em, young man!

But the next round brought Kansas City, and despite Watson’s excellence—388 passing yards, two TDs; 37 rushing yards, another TD—Houston blew its 24-0 second-quarter lead, falling 51-31. 

After the collapse, there were rumors Texans head coach Bill O’Brien—who was also serving as GM—was on the hot seat. However, O’Brien kept his job heading into 2020.

March 2020: Hopkins Traded To Arizona

deandre hopkins

Watson Loses His Top Target

DeAndre Hopkins is one of the most gifted players in the NFL and has some of the best hands the league has ever seen. In 2019, he put up 104 catches for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns. Further, he attended Watson’s alma mater (Clemson), and the two Tigers quickly established a strong rapport once Deshaun got to H-town.

Defying logic, O’Brien chose to move Hopkins shortly after the loss to Kansas City. He traded the generational talent for an aging running back (David Johnson), a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick.

Immediate consensus: the Cardinals had pulled a heist on the Texans. Some even called it the worst trade of all time.

Watson was not happy.

Though Johnson had a decent year, Hopkins was unbelievable in 2020 (115 catches), forming a dynamic duo with Kyler Murray. You know Watson had to watch some of those Arizona games while listening to “Marvin’s Room.”

Fall 2020: Watson Gets Paid, O’Brien Out

Deshaun Watson Warmup 2020 Jaguars

Signed $177.5 Million Extension in September

Watson’s discontent was growing, but Houston used its leverage to exercise the fifth-year option on his contract in April. Then, in September, he signed an extension to finally get paid -- four years, $177.5 million. It was the second-biggest contract in league history, behind only Mahomes’ agreement with KC.

As the unusual 2020 season got underway, it quickly became clear this Texans team would not compete for a championship. Houston started 0-4 and O’Brien was fired, finishing with a career record of 54-52. (He’s now expected to join Alabama as its new offensive coordinator.)

Watson had easily his best season as a pro, racking up 4,823 passing yards, 33 TDs, and seven INTs. He set new franchise records in practically every statistical category.

But everyone knew his prime was being wasted. Even his teammates felt bad about it!

January 2021: Frustration Mounts

Deshaun Watson Huddle Texans Jaguars 2021

2021 Season: Who Knows?

JJ Watt Deshaun Watson Texans Titans 2021

New York? Miami? Somewhere Else? 

Watson has a no-trade clause, but he’s reportedly willing to waive it for the right situation. One rumor indicated he could join Brian Flores in Miami, with Tua Tagovailoa—who underwhelmed in his first season in the league—getting moved to Houston.

On Monday, Watson liked an IG post that alluded to him joining the Jets. Sorry, Bills fans—there is growing speculation that he’ll join the AFC East. Even New England is a possibility.

But there are other teams reportedly in the mix, including Carolina. We recently reviewed five destinations that would make sense.

Where Watson will go is TBD, but it seems inevitable he is on his way out of town.

This has been a master class in how to botch your relationship with your franchise player. We are so sorry, Texans fans.

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