DONE DEAL

Inside Deshaun Watson's emotional press conference, one of many surprises

Photo by Getty Images.

HOUSTON — "What's up, D-Dub?" Clemson's head coach Dabo Swinney said with excitement late Saturday evening. The two-time national champion as head coach of the Clemson Tigers was one of several individuals who made a surprise guest appearance via Zoom to congratulate Deshaun Watson on his recent accompaniment.

Nearly nine hours before Swinney jumped on the call, Watson and the Houston Texans agreed to a four-year $160 million contract extension. Under his new deal, Watson can make up to $177.54 million, with $111 million in guarantees. The two parties made history by making Watson the second-highest paid player in NFL history — trailing only Patrick Mahomes and his 10-year contract worth up to $503 million.

Swinney went on to reminisce about Watson's growth from a freshman quarterback who tore his ACL to a national champion as a junior during his three-year collegiate career at Clemson. After Swinney ended his call by telling Watson, "you've got to go perform now," Houston Astros' pitcher Justin Verlander made an appearance to congratulate his good friend.

Inside the NRG Stadium, Watson displayed the same poise the Texans have become accustomed to as his former high school assistant coach, Michael Perry, and good friend Ethan Hughes stopped by to show their admiration towards the two-time Pro-Bowl quarterback. Already high on emotions, it wasn't until Watson saw his family flash across the screen is when the tears began to flow.

"I mean, that's really the only reason why I'm crying is just the moments, the good, the bad, the ugly, the sacrifice from day one, since I was a little kid in Gainesville, Georgia, until now," Watson said while trying to fight through tears. "Like I said before, the money is fine. It's cool. Like [I] told my family told me last night, I didn't do it for the money. That's just something that comes with it. I mean, it's just — it's a lot, for sure."

The words congratulations Deshaun filled the audio call yet again. In the midst of this, a family member encapsulated Watson's full journey by shouting out, "All that grinding, glad it paid off, boy. I'm proud of you." That same grind that began with humble beginnings in Gainesville resulted in the Texans' decision to draft the 6-foot-2 Georgia native with the 12th overall pick during the 2017 NFL Draft. Three years later, his grind led to the McNair family extending their belief in Watson as Houston's franchise quarterback through 2025 — at the very least.

"The biggest thing is for the McNair family, O.B. [Bill O'Brien], and Jack [Easterby] to just trust in me and believe that I'm their guy, I'm their quarterback is the biggest thing that really touches me," Watson said. "Growing up from where I'm from, there's not too many people that make it out, and so for them to just trust me really means the most. That's the biggest thing."

Obviously, Watson earned his contract extension due to his on-field talents. Since his arrival in Houston, Watson has already established himself as the Texans' best quarterback in franchise history. Bouncing back from a knee injury that limited him to seven games during his rookie season, Watson has recorded a career 9,716 passing yards with 71 touchdowns, while setting a franchise record 14 rushing touchdowns for a quarterback.

However, it was his character off the field that furthered solidified the Texans' decision to extend their confidence in Watson. Head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien said Watson's persona and hard work embody the model of the type of player the Texans want to have within the organization. Executive Vice President of Football Operations, Jack Easterby, raved about Watson's gift as a good friend, great communicator and a leader both on and off the field.

With a lengthy contract extension, Watson will continue to focus on building his legacy in a city he is happy to call home. It's a winning legacy that has witnessed Watson capture a state championship at Gainesville High School and a national championship at Clemson.

Through the tears of joy that filled the Zoom called, Watson said his mother, Deann Watson, reminded him that the journey to lead the Texans to their first Super Bowl championship continues this Thursday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"She [Deann Watson] said, 'Congratulations, but you've got a game to win Thursday and you've got a championship to go get.' And then she started getting into all the other stuff. I mean, having that mother that understands my priorities and my goals in life, I mean, it's amazing. It makes life a lot more easier, so it was awesome." — Watson.

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM

1. Davis Mills had an up-and-down day under center Friday. One play saw Mills drop back and try to get rid of the ball as Jonathan Greenard was rushing him only to have Greenard leap up and intercept Mills for what would have been an interception returned for a score.

2. A few plays later Davis Mills showcased his short memory. Mills surveyed the field, looked off the safety, and pitched a strike to Brevin Jordan over the middle, wide open, for a touchdown.

3. Davis Mills doesn’t stack bad plays. It is rare to see multiple bad plays happen in a row and Mills be the cause, or a cause, of the play not working. When he misses something, he usually makes up for it the next play.

4. It was a makeshift offensive line on Friday. Max Scharping played a lot at left guard. Charlie Heck saw some snaps at left tackle while Laremy Tunsil took a breather. Veteran lineman Cedric Ogbuehi played some at right tackle. There was plenty of work emphasized on the rushing attack Friday. The offensive line was fine, nothing special. I would say slight edge to the defense overall.

5. Rookie Kenyon Green didn’t practice. Right tackle Tytus Howard didn’t practice either. Pro Football Network is reporting Tytus Howard is out with a positive Covid test. Kenyon Green was banged up last practice, but Lovie Smith expects both back in the coming days.

6.The offensive line had its hands full with the defensive line today. Jonathan Greenard made the above-mentioned play of the practice with an interception. It felt constantly like there was some level of success from the defensive line. Not to say they dominated, but I would think the defense is happy with their day.

7. Maliek Collins has been a nice player in camp. He looks a bit quicker than last year. Collins downplayed how many “close” plays he had last year citing that everyone knows the saying “close but no cigar.” I asked him if he expected a lot of cigars this year. He chuckled and said yes. Teammate Roy Lopez gushed about what he believes Collins can be for this team and called his teammate one of the best defensive tackles in the league.

8. I almost wonder if quiet Derek Stingley days are good days. Stingley wasn’t involved in a lot of plays, but I know Davis Mills saw him on Friday. Mills dropped back on one play and made a read to his left seeing Chris Moore. Stingley darted from coverage towards Moore causing Mills to move off Moore and head to Nico Collins for a score. Yes, the defense allowed a touchdown, but Stingley did his job.

9. Rookie safety Jalen Pitre is a “starting” safety for the team according to Lovie Smith. Pitre had an interception, depending on who you ask, in practice. It is clear the Texans trust him and have put a lot on his plate. I would expect to see a lot of the rookie safety, good or bad, this season.



10. Lovie Smith praised the team’s depth at linebacker earlier in camp. I scoffed a little at the notion, but there seems to be a new linebacker making a play each day. Christian Kirksey had a nice stop in the run game today. Kevin Pierre-Louis, who played very little last year, has flashed. There’s some depth here, despite my skepticism.

11. Ka'imi Fairbairn doesn’t have a challenger in camp this year. I believed this offseason should have seen at the very least someone to challenge the kicker heading into his seventh year in the league. He’s been solid in camp so far, but there have been some misses. It is tough to judge distance, but the team clearly has faith in him with no challenger in sight.

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome