Following J.J. Watt's release, Houston's looming question is where the Texans stand with quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The answer: The same place they stood before parting ways with Watt.
The situations with Watt and Watson, however, aren't analogous.
Watt is a soon-to-be 32-year-old pass rusher, and while he still has plenty left in the tank, he is coming off the worst 16-game season of his 10-year career (five sacks, 17 QB hits) and was due $17.5 million in 2021. Players entering this stage of Watt's career with big deals are often salary-cap casualties despite their legendary status.
Watson is a 25-year-old franchise quarterback who is signed through the 2025 season. Watson is one of the top signal-callers in the NFL and just entering his prime. Players of his caliber at that position never get traded.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport spoke with Texans owner Cal McNair on Friday, who reiterated that Houston has no plans to part with Watson, calling the chatter "misinformation."
"Really, the situations have nothing to do with each other except for the fact that they are on the same Houston Texans team," Rapoport said on NFL Network's NFL NOW. "I did talk to Cal McNair, as I mentioned earlier, of course, I asked him about Deshaun Watson. He said, 'that's a different issue. That is not our focus.' But McNair did add there's a lot of misinformation out there. He said, 'I'll leave it at that. Deshaun is a member of the Texans. We expect him to remain him a member of the Texans, and we look forward to having him back.' As you guys know, several teams have called the Texans. They have not gotten a response from Nick Caserio. Deshaun Watson remains dug in, so now we are basically where we've been."
Watson has requested a trade and made it known he wants out of Houston.
The Texans aren't forced to make a move right now. Theoretically, they could force Watson to sit out and fine him for missing training camp, the preseason, and games. How that could damage their standing within league circles and hinder future forays into free agency if they stand their ground against one of the young faces of the NFL remains to be seen.
Reports suggest the young signal-caller is dug in and not worried about losing money in order to force a trade to a preferred destination.
Currently, we're in the middle of a potentially elongated staring contest.
Cutting Watt isn't a move that will force either side to blink yet.