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

Texans Nick Caserio, Deshaun Watson, Roger Goodell
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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Astros defeat the A's, 6-3. Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images.

Jake Meyers hit a three-run homer to highlight Houston's six-run fourth inning that backed Justin Verlander's winning start, and the Astros beat the Oakland Athletics 6-3 on Friday night.

Verlander (3-2) struck out nine over six innings to increase hit total to 3,377, passing Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (3,371) for 10th on the career strikeouts list. He gave up two runs — one earned — on eight hits and didn't walk a batter for a second straight start and seventh time this year.

After another milestone to add to a long list of them, Verlander wasn't sure exactly how to feel.

“I feel like I should be more excited but I feel like I’m a little more introspective and reflective,” Verlander said. “A lot of sacrifices you make in this game, a lot of time away from the family, but I love it, so it’s pretty amazing. I don’t know if as a 21- or 22-year-old kid in professional baseball if I’d thought I’d be in the top-10 in anything. This sport’s been around for so long. Hard to put into words, but a lot of thoughts, a lot of thoughts went through my mind.”

When his teammates celebrated him once the special outing had ended, Verlander allowed himself to ponder the meaning.

Verlander remembers his first strikeout and he recalls one against Hall of Fame slugger Frank Thomas here at the Coliseum — and the pitcher wears No. 35 because of Thomas.

“I have a lot of great memories here,” he said.

A's manager Mark Kotsay, a former Oakland outfielder, has been witness to some of those.

“He’s just tough. He’s a Hall of Fame pitcher. He knows his game plan and he executes it really well," Kotsay said. "He doesn’t make a ton of mistakes.”

Yordan Alvarez added an RBI double and Josh Hader finished the 2-hour, 31-minute game with his seventh save for the Astros, who began a seven-game road trip.

After right-hander Ross Stripling (1-9) retired the first nine Houston hitters in order, Jose Altuve singled to start the fourth for the first of four straight hits that included Alex Bregman's two-run single.

The A's drew an announced crowd of 9,676 for the series opener after winning two of three against Colorado following an eight-game losing streak.

Miguel Andujar came off the injured list and immediately hit an RBI single in the first off Verlander and finished with three hits in his A's and season debut — including another run-scoring single in the seventh.

Andjuar's RBI marked the first time the A's have scored first in 18 games — ending the longest streak in franchise history. Batting cleanup, he also singled in the third.

Astros left fielder Chas McCormick robbed Max Schuemann of an extra-base hit when he crashed into the wall to make a great catch ending the eighth.

“That was a big play at the moment,” manager Joe Espada said.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: RHP José Urquidy was pulled from his rehab start with Triple-A Sugar Land because of right forearm discomfort. He has been on the injured list with inflammation in his pitching shoulder. ... 1B José Abreu is scheduled to rejoin the club Monday in Seattle after playing at least two games with Triple-A Sugar Land as he works to regain his hitting rhythm.

Athletics: Andujar had been sidelined all season after having meniscus surgery on his right knee. He was claimed off waivers from the Pirates on Nov. 6. Oakland created roster room by optioning INF Brett Harris to Triple-A Las Vegas.

UP NEXT

RHP Spencer Arrighetti (2-4, 7.16 ERA) pitches for the Astros in the middle game opposite A's LHP JP Sears (3-3, 4.31).

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