HOUSTON – The Houston Texans look to move on in the wake of their trade Friday of Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, hoping the three first-round picks they received in the deal will help them improve a team that has been among the league’s worst the past two seasons.
But general manager Nick Caserio was quick to point out Saturday that rebuilding this team will take time.
“Nothing’s going to happen overnight,” he said. “This isn’t about one player, it isn’t about one draft. It’s not going to be about one particular thing. It’s going to be an ... accumulation of things over time.
"And if we do enough of the right things, then hopefully we have put ourselves in a position where we have a product on the field that the city of Houston can be proud of.”
Watson was dealt to the Browns Friday, more than 14 months after the quarterback first requested a trade after becoming unhappy with the direction of the team following the 2020 season. A first-round pick in 2017, Watson didn’t play all last season because of the trade request.
In the months after his request, 22 women filed civil lawsuits alleging that the sexually harassed or assaulted them during massages, sparking a police investigation. A grand jury in Houston declined to indict Watson on March 11, clearing the way for the Texans to trade him.
Watson is still facing separate civil proceedings for lawsuits filed by the 22 women and could be suspended by the NFL.
Houston received first-round picks in each of the next three drafts in the deal along with a third-round selection in 2023 and a fourth-round pick in 2024.
As Watson remained on the team last season but did not play, the Texans were subjected to a constant barrage of questions about the quarterback and his future in Houston. Now that they’ve moved on from Watson, Caserio wouldn’t say that there was a sense of relief but noted that the situation was challenging.
“We managed the situation probably as best as we could, and I tried to probably take the burden and responsibility onto my shoulders because ultimately it was going to be something that I was going to have to deal with and handle,” he said. “Try to take it off the players, try to take it off the coaches and let them focus on the things that they do well, which is playing and coaching football.”
Now that Watson is no longer on the roster, the Texans are back in the familiar position of having uncertainty at quarterback. This is a franchise that has been plagued by quarterback woes for most of its existence.
In the three seasons before they took Watson with the 12th overall pick in 2017, the Texans had a revolving door at the position, with nine players starting at least one game. Davis Mills started 11 games as a rookie last season with Watson sitting out, but he doesn’t seem to be the long-term solution for the team.
“Davis had opportunities last year and Davis did a nice job with his opportunities, but we’re kind of starting from scratch here a little bit,” Caserio said.
The Texans haven’t had a first-round draft pick since 2019, but will have two in the opening round this year after the Watson trade. Houston has both the third pick and received the 13th pick from Cleveland in the trade and could look to upgrade the quarterback position with one of those selections.
But Caserio said he doesn’t like to enter the draft focused on one position.
“You just want to look at it ... and just figure out what makes the most sense for the organization,” he said. “It’s about picking good players. It’s about picking the right players that you think fit what you’re trying to do. We’ll look at everything.”
The Texans have won just four games in each of the last two seasons after winning the AFC South the previous two years after trading or releasing almost all their stars and consistent starters.
Caserio, who was hired in January 2021, is happy with the return the Texans received for Watson. But he knows he has a lot of work to do to get this team back on the right track after two miserable seasons.
“Our job is to try and find solutions to take the next step and move the organization forward and that is my commitment to everybody in our building,” he said. “That is my commitment to the fans and that is my commitment to the organization.
"That is my commitment to ownership, and I’ll be damned if I don’t go down swinging.”
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