ASTROS HOT STOVE

Here's how the latest Justin Verlander news could heavily impact the Astros

Justin Verlander is now a free agent. Composite photo by Jack Brame.

News dropped on Thursday morning that Astros ace Justin Verlander has exercised his player option and is now a free agent.

The first initial thought is to assume he's considering all offers and might be on his way out of Houston, but that's not necessarily the case. Less than an hour after Verlander declined the Astros' 1-year qualifying offer last year, he agreed to a new deal with Houston.

Astros owner Jim Crane mentioned on Wednesday that the team had until 4 PM Thursday to negotiate with Verlander exclusively, which is still the case. But seeing the news first thing in the morning makes you wonder if we're past the point of him agreeing to a deal before talking with other teams.

In Verlander's World Series media session, he spoke about being a free agent last year, and how that was a cool new experience for him. But he did mention the typical free agency experience where players get “wined and dined” by teams didn't play out last year because of COVID restrictions still being an issue. It also had to feel different for JV because he was a free agent coming back from Tommy John surgery that hadn't pitched in a game in almost two years.

The point being, he may just want to enjoy the experience of being a free agent and bring the offers he receives back to Jim Crane as a negotiation tactic. But we know Jim Crane is more of a take it or leave it type of negotiator, just ask Carlos Correa.

So let's hold tight before jumping to any conclusions. It's possible we get a JV extension announced as soon as today, or Verlander could go for all the money in free agency. Hard to know at this point. Verlander probably doesn't know yet. I will say this, Crane will likely let him walk if he wants top of the market money. Let's just hope JV is being thorough, listening to all the offers, enjoys a bunch of teams courting him, and ends up signing back with Houston.

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Deshaun Watson will make his Cleveland Browns debut this Sunday against his former team at NRG Stadium. Watson has completed his suspension from the NFL for alleged sexual misconduct with dozens of massage therapists, and this Sunday will be the first game he has played in 700 days.

The Browns sit at 4-7 hoping Watson will be the spark the team needs to stack some wins and get into the Wild Card race. The Texans are still searching for their second win of the season, and many believe the team will be hiring another head coach come January.

With this in mind, who has the worst reputation? The Texans or Deshaun Watson?

It seems like an easy answer with Watson's legal troubles, but upon further review, the answer has to be the Texans. The Texans have hired two consecutive coaches that no other NFL team even interviewed. It seems like no quality candidates have any interest in coaching the Texans. Watson, however, had teams lining up for his services when the Texans decided to trade him.

Be sure to check out the video above as we dive into this topic and make a convincing case, as crazy as it sounds, that Watson is perceived to have a better reputation.

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