IT'S OVER!

Here's the Texans & A-Rod connection you never thought you'd hear

Texans Deshaun Watson
It's time to move on. Composite image by Jack Brame.

Headline this week: "NFL Teams Believe Houston Texans Are Moving On From Deshaun Watson."

Texans moving on? Why would other teams think that? You mean just because Watson has demanded to be traded, he's being sued by 22 women for sexual misconduct, two of them alleging sexual assault, he's being criminally investigated by the Houston Police Department, sponsors are abandoning him, and the NFL may suspend Watson for violating its personal conduct policy?

That's all? Sounds like a keeper to me. Last year, Watson was one of the NFL's brightest young stars and the Texans signed him to a $156 million contract. Now he's like a shiny car that just came back with a bad Carfax report. He's a tough public relations sell. The Texans need to unload him on an unsuspecting buyer right now, get whatever they can in return and wipe their hands clean of Watson.

Jack Easterby, the Texans front office Svengali, can't enjoy reading the X-rated court filings that portray the quarterback as a creepy massage addict and possible sexual predator. Watson claims the only reason he scoured Instagram for masseuses, including some from California, Arizona and Georgia, was because the Texans couldn't hook him up with licensed massage therapists because of the pandemic. And yes, he did occasionally have sex with some of the masseuses, but the sex was consensual. Watson denies all the allegations against him and says he's always treated women with the "utmost respect."

All that nonsense from Texans general manager Nick Caserio about the team having no interest in trading Watson despite Watson practically begging to be traded … is like the guy who stalks a woman, she goes to court to get a restraining order, and the guy thinks she's trying to continue the relationship. Watching the Texans, at least publicly, hoping to patch things up with Watson is like watching A-Rod pining on Twitter for J-Lo to come back. It's over. She's with Ben Affleck. Don't you watch TMZ? The Texans and A-Rod need to move on with their lives.

Which is really what the Texans already have done. They've signed Tyrod Taylor as their gap quarterback and drafted Stanford QB Davis Mills with their top pick (in the third round, thanks Bill O'Brien).

This week Texans owner Mr. Tudball had a rare conversation with the media and was giddy about the state of his team. He said, "I see a lot of positive energy, a lot of good things happening."

The owner is like that kid in The Sixth Sense. He sees dead things. The Texans are coming off a disastrous 4-12 season, their quarterback is mired in legal woes, they have a new general manager, new head coach, new team president and stars DeAndre Hopkins and J.J. Watt have gone to Arizona. It's time to cue the nice men in white lab coats waving butterfly nets. Go with them, Cal. They're here to help you.

Teams that might have been interested in offering a boatload of first-round picks for Watson have drafted or traded for their quarterbacks of the future. Against the advice of every stockbroker, the Texans didn't sell high. Now, according to NBC Sports columnist Peter King, the Texans' likely trade partners for Watson are down to the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers.

Here's how it's going to play out. Watson's lawyer Rusty Hardin and the accusers' lawyer Tony Buzbee will reach financial settlements for some or all of the women. Once money changes hands, with Watson admitting no guilt, he just wants to get all this past him, HPD will drop the case. The NFL will lower the boom on Watson, however, putting him on the commissioner's exempt list for six, or eight, or more games, possibly the entire 2021 season.

When the dust settles, the Texans will trade Watson, not for pennies on the dollar, but maybe a half-price liquidation sale. Then all that's left will be Watson apologizing for non-specific actions, and Hardin and Buzbee deciding whether to go on the talk show circuit together or by themselves.

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Welcome back, Justin! Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images.

Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will make his season debut Friday night at the Washington Nationals.

Houston manager Joe Espada made the announcement Wednesday.

“Getting him back is huge because it brings a level of confidence to our team, a boost of confidence that we’re going to get someone who’s been an MVP, a Cy Young (winner) on the mound,” Espada said. “It's (good) for the morale and to get stuff started and moving in the right direction.”

The three-time Cy Young Award winner opened the season on the injured list with inflammation in his right shoulder. He made two rehabilitation starts, the first for Triple-A Sugar Land on April 7 before Saturday’s start for Double-A Corpus Christi.

Espada wouldn't say how many pitches the 41-year-old would be limited to but said they'll keep an eye on his workload.

“We've got to be careful how hard we push him early,” Espada said. “I know he’s going to want to go and stay out there and give us an opportunity to win, but we've got to be cautious of how hard we push him early in the season.”

Verlander wasn’t thrilled with the results in his rehabilitation starts, but he said Monday that those games were valuable in getting him prepared to come off the IL.

He allowed seven hits and six runs — five earned — in four innings against Frisco on Saturday. He struck out three, walked one and threw 51 of 77 pitches for strikes.

Verlander allowed six earned runs and struck out six while pitching into the fourth inning for Sugar Land on April 7.

The Astros have gotten off to a tough start with Verlander and fellow starters Framber Valdez and José Urquidy on the injured list. They enter Wednesday's games last in the AL West with a 6-13 record.

Espada hopes Verlander can be the boost the team needs to get on track.

“It’s good to get him back in the rotation,” Espada said. “With what he means to this club just to get him back on track, getting some innings from him (to) build our rotation with the pieces that we need to move forward is exciting.”

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