News of Deshaun Watson's trade request exploded across media platforms Thursday, inspiring scenarios ranging from realistic to absurd.
None interest Texans general manager Nick Caserio.
"Organizationally, I just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson," Caserio said Friday during a press conference introducing new head coach David Culley, addressing the elephant in the room before a reporter even had a chance to ask him about Watson. "He's had a great impact on this organization, a great impact on a lot of people, a great impact on this team, and we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring once we get started.
"And, you know, we have zero interest in trading the player. We have a great plan, a great vision for him and for this team and his role on our team. We look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring."
Caserio presented his team's new hire with a similar theme of unifying the Texans organization, which has been under fire and mired in varying degrees of disarray since Bill O'Brien was given control of the roster, then fired in the middle of the season. Houston's approach to replacing O'Brien and filling the GM role upset Watson, causing further consternation for a franchise that struggled mightily to produce a solid product on the field in 2020.
Caserio said Friday he feels Culley is the man to bring things in line for the Texans.
"It was imperative to find a head coach that our entire organization could rally behind and David is unquestionably that leader," Caserio said. "David's infectious energy, passion for the game and ability to command a room was clear from the start. As he shared his vision for how a head coach should lead a football team, it further solidified our belief in him. His mentality of being selfless and willing to accept any challenge while investing in each person within our program resonated with all of us."
His first challenge -- mending fences with Watson and convincing him Houston is still where his future lies -- will be a massive one. As a star franchise quarterback just entering the opening stages of his prime, retaining Watson (and keeping him happy) is absolutely paramount to the Texans' future. And if that doesn't end up working, adjusting on the fly with whatever compensation Houston might receive for him in a potential trade will end up being equally as important.
Culley's leadership will be tested in this almost immediately -- well, as soon as he completes his first 24 hours on the job.
"The best way that you handle relationships is to communicate and be honest and be forthright. We're going to do that with everyone in this building, from equipment to training staff, to coaching staff, to personnel, to players, and, you know, this is kind of the initial stages of our program," Caserio said. "This is the first day for David. We're going to spend a lot of time together here obviously for the next few days and there is a number of things we are going to address and that we're going to tackle. I would say, in the interim, staff construction will be at the forefront of that. So, like anything, it's going to be through hard work, it's going to be through honest communication and, you know, we're going to do the right thing by people because that's what we believe in."
The Texans haven't quite done the right thing by Watson in how they handled their offseason changes so far. There's still time to make up for it, but the burden will fall on the shoulders of Caserio and Culley -- and it will be a significant task for the pairing of first-time general manager and coach.
To his credit, Culley was firm in his stance on the matter Friday when explaining his perspective on the still-developing situation and how it factored into his pursuit of the position.
"The only thing I knew about this whole situation, at that point, was is that I was being interviewed for this job to be the head coach. And, I did know at that point -- Deshaun Watson is a Houston Texan," Culley said. "He's the quarterback of the Houston Texans, and that's all that I was concerned about and that's all I knew. And whatever has been said about what he wanted to do or didn't want to do -- all I knew is this: Having been in this business this long --– he is a Houston Texan. And I want him to be a Houston Texan, and the reason I'm in this position today is because I knew he was going to be a Houston Texan.
"So, the outside stuff that was being said was irrelevant to me because the most important thing to me at that time was figuring out what can I do, after talking with Nick and his family, to become the next coach of the Houston Texans."
We'll see in the weeks and months ahead whether that remains the case. Either way, Culley has his work cut out for him as he begins his attempt to turn around the Texans.