HOUSTON — Another practice, another nonanswer from Houston Texans coach David Culley about quarterback Deshaun Watson‘s status.
After taking part in a limited capacity during the first five days of training camp, Watson has not practiced the past four days. In Monday’s practice — his last appearance — Watson did go to the sideline to talk to the trainer but then went back out onto the field.
Where is Watson when he’s not at practice? Culley didn’t answer when questioned about it on Friday.
What is Deshaun Watson doing during practice?
Culley: “Nothing’s changed.”
What does he do during the day?
Culley: “Nothing has changed.”
Is he in the stadium?
Multiple sources tell ESPN that Watson is at the Texans’ facility during practice.
Watson reported to training camp on July 25 after asking for a trade in January. He would have been fined $50,000 a day had he not reported. Less than two months after Watson’s trade request, the first of 23 lawsuits was filed, alleging inappropriate sexual behavior during massage sessions. All but one remain active civil cases.
Here is what we know about several other questions surrounding Watson and his future with the team.
What is the team saying about his health and status?
On July 28, the day of the Texans’ first training camp practice, Culley answered 15 questions about Watson’s status with the team. He didn’t give many details, but when asked about why the quarterback took part in positional drills but no team periods, the first-year head coach said it was because Watson wasn’t here for the team’s offseason program.
“When he came in, we basically decided that we wanted to — when he’s ready to do what we feel like he needs to do from a standpoint of this is a ramp-up period, and we don’t want to get to the situation where we’re having him do something that he’s not ready to do right now,” Culley said. “We decided that the individual periods were the periods that we could get him in where nothing happens. Moving forward, we’ll make a decision on that.”
Since then, Culley has stuck to a few standard answers when a reporter asks about Watson’s status and activities. Here’s a sampling:
Thursday, July 29: What we have seen in Watson the first two days, should we expect to see the rest of camp?
Culley: “You know, again, as we said before, it’s a daily deal and there’s no change from yesterday.”
Friday, July 30: Will Watson practice with pads?
Culley: “Nothing has changed from previous times.”
Tuesday, Aug. 3: Is Watson injured? Was he in the building?
Culley: “Well, as I said before, we’re day-to-day with it. The only thing that’s changed from the standpoint of that is we make decisions every day based on what’s best for our football team, and I’m going to leave it at that.”
Will Watson dress for preseason games?
The next step in training camp is preseason games. Houston opens Aug. 14 against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. It seems unlikely Watson — who essentially served as the team’s fourth quarterback during the practices — would travel.
Nothing we’ve seen during practice, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor taking the majority of the reps followed by rookie quarterback Davis Mills and veteran quarterback Jeff Driskel, indicates the Texans expect Watson to play.
Where do the lawsuits stand now?
Nothing has changed publicly, as the lawyers Rusty Hardin (Watson’s attorney) and Tony Buzbee (the attorney for the 22 plaintiffs) continue to go through the discovery phase.
According to the agreed-to docket for the case, if these lawsuits continue to trial, depositions are set to begin in September. The plaintiffs would be deposed before Watson, who can’t be deposed before Feb. 22, 2022, according to that schedule.
The plaintiffs could individually, or as a group, agree to a settlement with Watson, which would change the timeline of Watson’s legal situation.
In terms of criminal charges, 10 women have filed complaints with Houston police about Watson, Hardin told ESPN’s John Barr last month. According to Hardin, eight of those women are among the 22 women who have filed lawsuits against Watson and two of the women have not filed lawsuits. The Houston Police Department has not given a public update regarding any charges.
Will commissioner Roger Goodell put Watson on the exempt list?
On the day before the Texans’ first practice, the NFL released a statement saying the league would not put any restrictions on Watson taking part in team activities.
“The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active,” the NFL said in a statement last month. “We are working cooperatively with the Houston Police Department and ensuring that the NFL’s inquiry does not interfere with their investigation. As we continue to gather additional information and monitor law enforcement developments, we will make appropriate decisions consistent with the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the Personal Conduct Policy.”
At the time, a source told ESPN the NFL had not been given access to many of the plaintiffs who filed the lawsuits or to third parties who might have relevant information. The NFL also had not been given access to evidence the police had gathered in their investigation.
Based on that statement, it seems unlikely that the NFL would reverse its decision and put him on the commissioner’s exempt list unless and until something changes with Watson’s legal situation.
What’s next for Watson and the Texans? When will he be traded?
The Texans are willing to trade Watson if the right offer is presented and general manager Nick Caserio can get what he deems to be an appropriate return.
If that offer is not there, the Texans will have to make a decision about the 2021 season. Would Watson start? Would he be a healthy scratch? Would he end up on injured reserve? Would he be excused from the team and paid? Until the team makes that decision, it seems we’ll be told “nothing has changed.”