What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object? We’re about to find out. The Texans remain firm in their stance that star quarterback Deshaun Watson isn’t going anywhere. Watson would beg to differ. Furious at the team for not consulting him before hiring GM Nick Caserio or head coach David Culley (last year’s DeAndre Hopkins trade didn’t sit well with him either), Watson has been adamant he wants no part of the Texans and will do whatever he can to facilitate a trade.
With neither side giving an inch, this standoff could go on for quite some time. Many have wondered if Watson, in his quest to play anywhere but Houston, would be willing to sit out the entire season, a rare but not unprecedented measure. Le’Veon Bell staged a similar, season-long holdout in 2018, albeit under slightly different circumstances (because he never signed his franchise tag, Bell technically wasn’t on the Steelers’ roster).
If Houston continues to resist Watson’s increasingly desperate demands, and the 25-year-old remains steadfast in his intention to never play another down for the team that drafted him 12th overall in 2017, the Clemson product would forfeit over $20 million in combined salary and bonuses by sitting out the year, according to Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk on NBC Sports.
For starters, if Watson opts not to play, he’d be punting on a $10.54-million base salary. That figure could potentially rise to $11.16 million if the NFL moves to a 17-game regular season, a long-awaited change that many believe will finally come to fruition this year. Not suiting up in 2021 would also cost Watson his signing bonus, putting $5.4 million back in Houston’s pocket.
If Watson blows off the team’s mandatory minicamp in June, he’d be subject to a fine of $93,085. Florio calculated that at $50,000 a day, Watson would rack up an additional $1.7 million in fines for skipping all 34 days of Texans training camp. Assuming three preseason games, the Texans could deduct another $1.86 million if Watson no-shows for Houston’s exhibition slate this summer. That all adds up to $20.213 million. Plus, if Watson decides to play hooky all year, his contract would toll, meaning his $35-million base salary (that’s under the assumption of a 16-game regular season) in 2022 would be pushed back a year to 2023.
We’re really in the weeds now, but you get the idea. A lot can change between now and Week 1, but if both sides continue to dig in their heels, last year's NFL passing yards leader would be on the hook for a hefty sum. That may not matter to Watson—he’s already pocketed over $40 million in career earnings. But it would to most players.