Reports: Deshaun Watson “unhappy” with process of hiring Caserio as new general manager

Cal McNair had promised Watson that he would be involved with hiring new head coach, GM

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) sits on the field after a fumbled snap during an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Houston. (AP Photo/Matt Patterson) (Matt Patterson, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – When quarterback Deshaun Watson and defensive end J.J. Watt -- the two biggest stars in Houston -- walked off the field at Reliant Stadium at the end of a disappointing 4-12 season on Sunday afternoon, they shared a sobering conversation that was picked up by NFL Films cameras.

“I’m sorry we wasted one of your years,” Watt said. “We should have 11 wins.”

Their season had spiraled out of control, from trading star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins before the season began, to an ugly 0-4 start, to the firing of head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, and culminating with a 41-38 loss to the Titans that will be remembered in league history as the night Tennessee running back Derrick Henry rushed for 250 yards to break the hallowed 2,000-yard mark.

Since that game ended, Watson has met with the media multiple times and repeatedly expressed his belief that the Texans organization needed a “whole culture shift.”

“We need new energy,” Watson said. “We just need discipline. We need structure. We need a leader so we can follow leader as players. That’s what we need. We’ve all got to be on the same page. There’s too many different minds, too many different ideas and too many people thinking they have this power, and it’s not like that. We need someone that stands tall, and this is who we follow and this is the way it goes.”

For the moment, Watson likely feels that those remarks fell on deaf ears.

On Thursday morning, Houston officially announced the hiring of former Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio as their new general manager. Caserio is yet another executive/coach poached from the Patriots organization, and he has strong ties to current Texans executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby. Caserio was also the same man that the Texans wanted to interview for the same job vacancy in 2019 after then-general manager Brian Gaine was fired. At the time, New England blocked Caserio from progressing further into an interview process due to a clause in his contract and used the threat of tampering charges. Houston decided not to pursue Caserio any further, and O’Brien stepped up to fill the void. He served as both head coach and general manager, and that move, as we now know, led to disaster.

Soon after Caserio’s hiring was leaked on Tuesday, Watson posted a vague tweet, claiming “some things never change...” The tweet has since been deleted, but it was quote-tweeted by his personal quarterback skills coach Quincy Avery and accompanied with a bullseye emoji. At the time, it was difficult to ascertain Watson’s motivation, but late Thursday evening, NFL Insider Ian Rapoport revealed that Watson was “extremely unhappy” with Texans owner Cal McNair and the organization for not discussing Caserio’s hire with him personally. In later tweets, Rapoport clarified that Caserio himself is not the issue. Watson is upset with the manner in which he is hired, and reportedly has not spoken with any member of the “Texans brass.”

Watson, who signed a four-year, $160 million extension this offseason, was promised by McNair that he would have more input in the hiring process for both the head coach and general manager this offseason. ESPN’s Adam Schefter is reporting that Watson had suggested a list of candidates for both positions without an expectation that they would be hired, but that it would be used in the search for the right man. That list was not used in hiring Caserio.

Watson’s ambiguous tweet and the current disfunction at the top of the Texans organization set twitter ablaze with trade speculation, and there are currently reports circulating that Watson has discussed the possibility of requesting a trade with other teammates. Should Watson be traded, the Texans would enter the following season with a $22 million salary-cap hit, but Texans insider John McClain of the Houston Chronicle is discounting that possibility, saying that Watson is “not going anywhere.” That could leave both sides of this disagreement at an impasse and lead to even more turmoil.

Texans fans, players and staff were hoping to turn the page to a new era. Caserio might be the right step in that direction. But it is also clear that the mess he inherits is much more serious and damaging to the organization and its relationship with star talent than it was before this week began.

About the Author:

Andrew has covered athletics of all levels for more than five years and is dedicated to shining a spotlight on local San Antonio athletes and their stories.