The Deshaun Watson watch goes into hibernation and other thoughts from Houston’s trade deadline

If you actually read this post, and you’re going to respond to me on Twitter about it in good faith, please use the hashtag #ReadThePiece. I know this sounds silly, but it’s an easy way for me to separate responses that I want to honor with a real answer from people who just want to be mad about everything they read online.

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As I tried to say when I wrote last week’s post on the only situation with the team any non-Texans fan cares about, I didn’t really see much of a way forward for the Texans and Dolphins if there was an insistence on the civil lawsuits being settled. Of the flood of reports that came out as the hopes of a deal officially ended on Tuesday afternoon, the only new twist was that Dolphins owner Stephen Ross had tried to establish contact with Watson through the Texans and that this had only been granted very recently in the process.

I don’t necessarily know that reading into this needs to be a conspiratorial exercise (i.e. I don’t think this lack of speaking was a malicious thing, but perhaps an unexpected part of the process in what is very much an unexpected situation), but it does sound like there were bits of the process that just were never going to come together in-season while a football team is focusing on it’s football things. The Dolphins did get permission whereas the Panthers did not. Watson started to try to settle but didn’t know he’d need to until it was a bit late. It’s a complex deal. And so our watch continues.

I don’t blame the Texans at all for holding on for a better deal. I am very curious if they’ll actually get it. Watson showing at least some desire to settle the cases per various reporters (including Houston ones) is probably a good sign for the future of his trade value. That leads us to the most divisive bit that went up, from Pro Football Talk:

It is only good business for Watson to settle the cases. I don’t know that this is ultimately what will happen, or if doing so will wipe away all the other criminal complaints, FBI involvement, and so on. I do think it makes sense that Houston’s price would go up given that happening. I also think that Watson taking any of the cases to court could potentially sabotage his own trade value — and that’s something that he actually controls — just on the pure shock value of what is revealed. It just adds another complex cog to a situation you already needed a doctorate in to talk about. I agree that waiting on a trade makes sense given these conditions, I commend the Texans for not jumping the gun as well as getting clarity on where the picks are going to be, but I do want to point out that there is at least some downside inherent in that play. It relies on Watson to be a rational actor about his legal situation when he has not really done much of that without incentive to date.

Ultimately, there will likely be some deal as we get more legal clarity at the start of the new league year or around draft time. In the meantime, we can get a respite from focusing on the delicious draft picks and get to the depressing business of the 2021 Texans.

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Texans deal Charles Omenihu for beans

The Texans dealt Charles Omenihu to the 49ers for a future sixth-round pick in a move that was not all that surprising. It’s a move that also doesn’t make any sense without the context of the very binary yes/no culture this team is installing.

Whatever happened behind closed doors here, the Texans failed spectacularly with Omenihu this year. They played him as a 4-3 end, in a role that he should not have been anticipated to succeed at on run downs, then got mad when he didn’t do it well. They deactivated him for two games. Lovie Smith spoke to trying to find a new role for him, and Omenihu came back and did a fairly decent job with the Texans against Arizona as a pass rusher. He’s an interior pass rusher who may or may not be playable there on run downs — probably not.

Omenihu was one of the only players on the team under 25 years old with any real playing time in the past. It’s really hard to understand this move on paper for a team that is 1-7. The only way to view it rationally is to point out that he was not a personality fit with this team for whatever reason. And isn’t it interesting how this is the only team that has those problems on the scale that the Texans do?

I don’t think this is a move worth setting NRG on fire over. I don’t think Omenihu is ultimately an NFL star or anything. But he should have been a promising piece on the inside after his first two years, and they simply don’t have much to show for it. My belief is that the NFL draft is about four rounds long. That sixth might pay for some freight, and I don’t care that it’s a future pick. But it’s probably at most going to be feeding a special teams need or traded for the next Anthony Miller, that’s just the rational big picture view of it.

The Mark Ingram trade

So this was an interesting change of pace: the Texans regarded Ingram as a key culture piece, but after being pushed by the Saints multiple times, Houston apparently relented and asked Ingram if he wanted the trade. Ingram, as I think anyone with a rational brain would have, said yes. He even got a contract extension out of it.

The Texans received a 2024 seventh-round pick from the Saints. I don’t necessarily disagree with the Texans that Mark Ingram is a beloved locker room guy and culture leader; I just question what it was worth to have him here if the team is 1-7. I would have taken seven games of Scottie Phillips carries and an understanding of what he is as a player over the seventh-round pick — you can always find UDFAs at running back. That probably wasn’t going to happen anyway given David Johnson’s existence, but it’s hard for me to understand the divide between “this guy is super important for our culture” and “we’ll trade him for a seventh-round pick as a favor to him.”

I would love to learn more about what exactly facilitated that and how that relates to the other culture players on their roster, but ultimately I applaud the move to trade Ingram. He wasn’t going to be a part of the next good Houston Texans team. The return is light, but his value was never going to be high. I would love to say I carried some memories of Ingram beyond the few long carries he had, but I really don’t beyond just how deep the team went in on him in terms of words, actions, and posts, and how jarring it is that they just up and dropped him for nothing.

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In sum, the first year of Nick Caserio’s tenure was pretty much a waste. The team is 1-7. The coaching pick has devolved from bad in practice to bad in actuality, to the point where David Culley continues to say things that any rational eyes can dispute and has turtled so hard as a head coach that it’s easy for people to believe he’s tanking on purpose. The only players Caserio has brought in or brought back that are playing well are Roy Lopez, 15 snaps of Brevin Jordan and six quarters of Tyrod Taylor. Maybe Tavierre Thomas, Nico Collins, and Maliek Collins crack that list by season’s end. They were only able to bring in a sixth-rounder for Shaq Lawson and a seventh-rounder for Ingram.

The only argument that anything is actually happening in a positive way is something vague and generic about a culture, one where the best player on the team continues to be called a leader even as he gets pissed off enough to dog the team weekly, and where one of the other leaders can be dealt for a seventh-round pick:

It remains a dark time to try to find optimism in Houston. About all I can give you is that the situation Caserio entered into was unprecedented and that it was unlikely that anybody would have succeeded with the start that he did. But when you break it down move-by-move, there’s just not a lot happening with this roster beyond their young players, and those young players have been held back behind culture veterans all season.

I’m sorry. I’d like it to be better too. Maybe next offseason will have an actual plan for creating future value for the Texans. I sure hope so.

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