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Could Deshaun Watson force a trade by telling the Texans he’s ready to play?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms discuss how the Houston Texans are handling their Deshaun Watson predicament.

One of the best things about the two-hour cruise of the NFL that happens every morning on PFT Live is that the unrehearsed, loosely outlined conversation often results in Simms or me thinking of something that hadn’t previously occurred to us.

Today, while discussing the lingering presence of quarterback Deshaun Watson on the Houston roster, a light flickered for me. What happens if Watson tells the Texans, “I’m ready to play”?

Sure, Watson is done with the Texans. But the Texans are also done with Watson. If he plays and gets injured, their chances of getting multiple first-round picks plus more goes out the window.

The Houston talking points regarding Watson involve focusing on a daily approach. Day-to-day. One day at a time. What if that’s aimed at keeping Watson on board by making him think that it’s coming? “It’s coming. Be patient, Deshaun. It’s coming.”

Watson is a football player. Football players play football. Week One is coming. Watson, despite his direct responsibility for his present circumstances, wants to play football. He doesn’t want to get paid to give up a season of his career.

This isn’t a question of whether he truly wants to play for the Texans. It’s a question of whether he’ll tell the Texans he’s ready to play in order to force Houston’s hand. With Tyrod Taylor, Jeff Driskel, and Davis Mills on the roster, what happens if Watson says, “Put me in, Coach? I’m ready to play.”

That could be the only way to get the Texans to trade Watson during the 2021 season.

And while in theory the Texans could still choose to deactivate him every week, it’s tougher to make a de facto paid suspension work if the player isn’t on board with it. The 2006 CBA, negotiated a year after the Eagles eventually sent Terrell Owens home with pay, wiped out the ability of a team to do that. If Watson wants to fight a refusal to let him practice or play, he could.