FALCON POINTS

Let's discuss if this is the right time to pay Deshaun Watson

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The Texans are reportedly working on an extension for quarterback Deshaun Watson, one that is surely to make him one of the highest paid players in the league.

Watson is clearly the face of the franchise (well, when Bill O'Brien isn't forcing himself out front) and a player the Texans should lock up. However, is now the right time?

Watson is scheduled to make $4.4 million in 2020, less than kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn. He would make just over $17 million in the final year of his deal in 2021, and the Texans could conceivably franchise him for another year. While Watson deserves to get paid, perhaps it should happen after the 2020 season, not before.

Houston is almost in the same boat as Dallas, which is trying to lock up Dak Prescott long-term. Prescott has been tagged for just over $31 million in 2020. The Cowboys Stephen Jones is aware of what paying big money means.

"There's all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, that it decreases your chances to win," Jones said.

While there are some that would dispute that, the concern is real. Tie up too much of your cap, and there is not enough money to place talent around your quarterback. You could argue the Cowboys have better pieces around Prescott than the Texans do Watson.

In both cases, the players deserve their money. But with Watson, waiting might make more sense. The big concern is how much the salary cap world will change in the Ronaverse. If you lock up Watson now at 2019 money, the possibilities of it taking up a massive amount of cap space increase. While many speculate the cap will still go up due to TV dollars even if massive revenue is lost due to lack of fans, hoping that happens is foolish. TV dollars are based on the potential for ad sales. Is it a guarantee that money will be there in the future?

Pre-Rona, yes, you lock up Watson at whatever the cost. But with the future uncertain for both sports and the economy, would waiting a year really be a bad idea? Sure, Watson could increase his value, but by how much? A few million a year? If he does that, you don't mind paying. It means you probably made a Super Bowl, although that seems unlikely considering the limitations of his coaching staff.

But if the cap drops drastically, it would deflate the market. Watson would still get paid big money, but at a more realistic rate. The Texans would have no problem shedding cap in 2021 to give him a big raise then. Theoretically, they could do that now, certainly, and still be able to field a competitive team. There are always ways to stay under the cap, even if it plummets dramatically in 2021. But with an uncertain future for both sports and the economy, is this really the time?

Waiting a year might be the prudent move. Let's see if the Texans actually do it.

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The Astros have JV this year, and Yankee Stadium will be packed. Composite image by Jack Brame.

How’s that New York, New York song go, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere? The AL West leading Houstonians are about to find out just where they stand among baseball’s elite. The Astros start a 4-game series tonight against the AL East first-place Yankees at Yankee Stadium, then a 2-game set against the NL East first-place Mets at Citi Field, then back home for a single game against the Yankees.

New York, New York indeed. And you can throw another New York in there for an encore.

When the dust clears, the Astros could be the best team in baseball or merely a good, solid team … just not the Yankees in the American League. Or the Mets in the National League.

The Yankees have the top record in the AL East, 51-18, a dozen games ahead the second-place Blue Jays. The Mets, even after dropping two to the Astros this week at Minute Maid Park, stand at 45-26, 4.5 games up on the Braves.

The Yankees and Mets have the two best records in the Major Leagues, with the Astros knocking on the door at 43-25.

It’s not yet July, but the next seven games could be the most important, interesting stretch of 2022 for the Astros, maybe for all of baseball.

Remember last year when the Astros visited Yankee Stadium, their first trip to The Bronx after the sign-stealing scandal broke? Yankee fans were lurking for the Astros like the Van Buren Boys waiting to mug George Costanza.

It was a different year last year for sure. The Yankees were barely over .500, headed for a third-place finish in the AL East. Didn’t matter, cold-blooded New Yorkers were out for vengeance. They remembered 2017 when they believe in their souls that the Astros were undeserving, big fat cheating champions and Astros second baseman Jose Altuve stole the AL MVP election from Aaron Judge. There seems to be a lot of that going around. Also with no evidence. Turns out that Altuve wasn’t one of the garbage can gang.

It also was baseball’s Covid season. The Yankees allowed only 10,500 fans to attend those games against the Astros last year. And they had security staff patrolling the ballpark ordering fans to wear their face masks. The only time fans lowered their masks was to eat or drink.

Or yell “F-Altuve” or “F-Astros” at the top of their New York lungs. They’re loud to start, and 10,500 fans sounded like a packed stadium. It could be a decibel-breaker tonight at Yankee Stadium.

It was brutal last season. Fans brought signs laced with profanity. They got personal with Astros players. Fans were dressed in homemade garbage can costumes. Party City doesn’t sell those. I watched small children yell the F-word and turn to their parents for a high five.

What a treat for Astros fans, seven games over eight days, all against dreaded powerhouses from New York. A dying sport? Half empty stadiums in Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Miami? A vacant house in Oakland? Nobody’s ghosting baseball in Houston.

The Astros are loaded for bear this week. Their pitching is set up perfectly. Framber Valdez starts the opener tonight at Yankee Stadium, followed by Justin Verlander, Cristian Javier and Jose Urquidy. Luis Garcia and Valdez are slated for the Mets at Citi Field. The bullpen is firing on all cylinders.

Then, one week from today, it’s Verlander vs. Gerrit Cole at Minute Maid Park. Game of the Year. Where the pitching rubber meets the road. TK, Blummer and Julia, get ready for World Series level ratings.

It’s go time. The only thing that could make that game any bigger and better – if it were a Tuesday Dollar Dog Night.

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