How the NFL's inaction could lead to a reunion between Watson, Texans

Now it's a waiting game. Composite image by Jack Brame.

The NFL's deadline for teams to cut their rosters down to 53 active players has come and gone. The eight-man practice squads have also been set. As per every year, there are some surprise releases and keeps. The Patriots cut Cam Newton, but the Falcons kept Josh Rosen. The Vikings cut four-time Pro Bowl defensive end Everson Griffen. Although he's been rumored to possibly resign with the team, his release is still surprising. One other move that wasn't as surprising was the Texans keeping Deshaun Watson on their 53-man roster. The thing that was surprising is the fact that the league isn't stepping in to quell the fire around Watson by putting him on the Commissioner's Exempt List or suspending him.

According to league rules, since Watson hasn't been formally charged with any criminal charges, the NFL won't act until the criminal charges and investigations are settled. While there are 10 criminal complaints filed, those investigations are ongoing. This puts the Texans in an awkward position. While he's on the roster, he's likely to be a healthy scratch for several reasons.

One thing the team doesn't want to do is risk getting Watson hurt, or diminishing his value by subpar play due to his lack of reps and severe void of talent around him. This would undoubtedly dwindle his trade value. The league doesn't want to overstep its bounds by taking action before they're legally able to do so. Another thing the team doesn't want to do is play Watson and have to make him available to the media. Not only that, but it would put an unnecessary cloud over the team by having teammates and coaches constantly answer questions about Watson.

Crazier things have happened

This leaves a glimmer of hope for a possible reunion. While the team has put out feelers and/or listened to offers for Watson, a trade hasn't been formalized for obvious reasons. With the league taking a hands-off approach, this leaves the team to figure it out for themselves. I've previously stated that Jack Easterby would drool at the opportunity to help Watson rehab his image, but would Watson and his team ever tuck tail and go back to the Texans? Perhaps.

The scenario would have to play out like this: Watson is cleared of criminal charges due to lack of evidence. The civil suits are ruled favorably for Watson whether settled out of court or by judge's orders. However, teams are unwilling to meet the Texans' trade demands. The ones that are, Watson refuses to waive his no-trade clause for. This leaves them both to try to mend fences in order to save face. If the team is as bad as they could be, they'll have high draft picks and tons of cap space. If general manager Nick Caserio can convince Watson (and his team) of a plan to retool the team and transfer them into contenders, what if he sees that as an opportunity to rehab his image? This could lead to, at minimum, a temporary reunion to help Watson regain his image and value. If he feels like his image is better, he still wants out, and the team is willing to oblige, there could be a trade after the 2022 season.

I know I've said this in passing in past articles about Easterby helping Watson rehab his image, but there's about a plastic cheese slice cover of a possibility of it actually happening. We'll never know how all this will play out until it plays out. This is pure speculation on my part. I truly think this will end with Watson on another team next offseason and the Texans using whatever draft capital to rebuild the team. However, if things take a wacky turn, I'd like to see it play out with Watson staying...even if it may mean Easterby gets fully entrenched in the organization.

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