Deshaun Watson Rumors: Texans, QB Engaged in 'Very Preliminary' Contract Talks

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 24, 2020

AFC quarterback Deshaun Watson, of the Houston Texans, (4) warms up before the NFL Pro Bowl football game, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
John Raoux/Associated Press

The Houston Texans reportedly signed left tackle Laremy Tunsil to a record-setting contract extension on Friday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Steve Wyche. Now, quarterback Deshaun Watson could be next.

According to ESPN's Ed Werder, the Texans and Watson have begun "very preliminary" contract discussions":

Head coach Bill O'Brien added Watson and the Texans haven't gotten into details on a potential new contract, per James Palmer of NFL Network.

A Watson mega-extension would only add to the intrigue of the Texans' offseason, which has been as compelling—and at times confounding—as any in recent memory.

First, the Texans traded superstar receiver DeAndre Hopkins and a fourth-round pick (2020) to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, a second-round pick (2020) and a fourth-round pick (2021). The deal shocked the NFL world.

Johnson essentially lost his starting job in Arizona last season and has a cap hit of $11.1 million in 2020 and $9 million in 2021. Not great. 

They also traded a second-round pick (2020) to the Los Angeles Rams for wide receiver Brandin Cooks and signed Randall Cobb to a three-year, $27 million deal.

The average total salary for Cooks and Cobb combined over the next two seasons will be $38.7 million. Hopkins reportedly wanted a contract extension worth between $18-20 million per season, per ESPN's Dianna Russini, which led to the Texans dealing him.

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Most teams would prefer to have Hopkins over the combination of Cooks and Cobb. The other issue is that Cooks, Will Fuller and Kenny Still are all speed receivers in a similar mold. The Texans don't have much skill versatility in their wideout group. 

Tunsil's contract extension will face scrutiny, too, if only because it has reset the tackle market. But after the Texans dealt two first-rounders and a second-round pick in the Tunsil trade package, they had to sign him to an extension. That absolutely cost them some leverage. 

Watson will be paid amongst the highest players at his position, too. Watson may not get the four-year, $140 million contract that Seattle Seahawks superstar Russell Wilson received, but you can bet his asking price will be in that neighborhood. 

Granted, Watson is the team's most important player. He was excellent in 2019, throwing for 3,852 yards, 26 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in 15 games while completing 67.3 percent of his passes. The Texans have reached the postseason in consecutive years with him under center. 

Watson deserves to get paid. But the Texans haven't exactly been smart in how they've managed the cap this offseason. That makes any moves they make going forward a potential cause for long-term concern.

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