The drama in Houston continues to unfold slowly between Deshaun Watson and the Texans.
The star quarterback wants out. Thus far, the club has been adamant it won't trade a top-three signal-caller in his prime.
Watson's resolve that he wants to be traded hasn't wavered, which has led to speculation that he could sit out until he gets his wish. Fines and loss of income be damned.
While the Texans have insisted they wouldn't trade the QB, might cracks in that stance start to form?
New Houston head coach David Culley joined NFL Network's Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche on the Huddle & Flow podcast and was asked if Watson would be the team's starting QB in Week 1 of the 2021 season.
"He is our starting quarterback as of right now," Culley responded. "He is our starting quarterback. Things happen between now and then. We'll see what happens."
It's difficult to read that quote and not hear shades of how the Los Angeles Rams talked about Jared Goff before inevitably trading the franchise QB. Obviously, the Goff and Watson situations are apples and oranges, but Culley's language is identical.
Pointed out by Trotter and Wyche that the 65-year-old coach has been around the league long enough to know that saying Watson is the QB "right now" opened the door to the interpretation that the Texans indeed might trade him, Culley responded:
"That's right. Right now. And hopefully in the future," he said.
During his media availability Thursday following the podcast interview, Culley added that the Texans are "very committed to Deshaun as our quarterback. He's our quarterback."
The first-time head coach might have cut out the "right now" upon reconsidering, but his interview on the Huddle & Flow podcast at least sparks the notion that Houston could start to bend on its previous stance.
It's an interpretation Culley later detracted.
"There is no contingency plan," Culley told reporters. "[Deshaun Watson] is a Houston Texan, and that's how we're moving forward with it. We're committed to him, as I said before."
Cully told Wyche that he's not privy to the issues that led to the quarterback's desire to leave.
"This is how I answer that: Is that basically with us, everything that's concerned with us inside this building with the way we are going about our business right now is, is that it is positive," he said. "I am excited to be here. One of the reasons I'm excited to be here is because of Deshaun Watson. And regardless of what's happening outside of this building, which quite frankly, I don't hear or read or listen to what happens outside of this building. I don't. I have people come up to me all the time and ask me about this situation. But the point is, inside this building, inside this organization, we feel positive about moving forward with this football with Deshaun Watson."
The Texans have gone through massive changes in the past year, from firing Bill O'Brien to changes throughout the front office to the recent release of star J.J. Watt.
Despite the outward perception of fractured relationships, Culley is confident those connections can be reconciled.
"Remember this now: We're moving forward, you know, we're moving forward," Culley told Trotter and Wyche. "All our conversations have been with all of our players here is that we are moving forward. We're going to go forward, and we're going to go forward with everybody that is all in with us that wants to go. I'd like to think and I feel like that as we move forward, we're going to move forward all in with everybody that's all in with us. I feel like that everybody's going to be all in, including (Watson), including everybody else that's been here that we're moving forward and we're going with it and we're gonna go with that way."
The question then is what if Watson remains not all in? Will Culley and the Texans eventually move on without the 25-year-old star?
Asked during his media availability if Watson was committed to the Texans, Culley responded:
"Yes, he is."
The coach was then asked, how do you know that?
"Well, he's a Houston Texan," Culley replied.
The unsaid addendum to that response: For now.
You can hear the full episode of the "Huddle & Flow" podcast hosted by Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast provider.