Jan 12, 2020; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson  (4) celebrates after a touchdown against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half in a AFC Divisional Round playoff football game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Texans’ Holdem: Deshaun Watson trade ‘not happening’

Teams spend years, sometimes decades, searching for a franchise quarterback. The Houston Texans found one, and are standing by the appraisal of cost for another team to acquire him.

As the minutes and hours to the NFL trade deadline Tuesday tick by, the Texans might be making moves. Trading Deshaun Watson is not one of them.

Of course, a team could bow to Caserio’s trade price — reportedly starting at three first-round draft picks — and shift the narrative. That’s a longshot at this point.

Texans chairman and chief operating officer Cal McNair strikes a philosophical tone while expressing heavy trust in his chosen decision-maker: general manager Nick Caserio.

A former chief lieutenant to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick hired by McNair in January to overhaul the Texans’ roster following a 4-12 season, Caserio is in the middle of trying to engineer an ambitious rebuilding project.

It’s a tough job for any NFL executive, and Caserio has been trying to acquire draft capital to make over a roster whose best player no longer wants to play for them.

The Texans are already in sale mode as they approach the NFL trade deadline Tuesday, having traded former Pro Bowl running back Mark Ingram to the Saints and paying him $250,000 to account for New Orleans’ tight salary-cap situation while he signed a one-year contract extension in 2022 with a maximum value of $2.8 million. More trades could be coming with wide receiver Brandin Cooks reportedly drawing interest.

The biggest potential piece Caserio has to dangle in front of NFL teams: disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Watson.

And trading Watson, for the appropriate value, presents Caserio with one of the most difficult and unprecedented situations in recent NFL history.

But according to sources, a deal involving Watson is “not happening right now.”

One of the top players regardless of position in the NFL, Watson long ago soured on playing for the Texans. The relationship was damaged when the Texans traded All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. It was broken irrevocably when Watson didn’t get the voice he thought McNair had assured to him in the hiring process of Caserio and coach David Culley.

Now, Watson is firmly on the trading block and the Texans may not be able to hammer out a deal with the Miami Dolphins, Watson’s chosen trading partner and the only known team he’d relent his no-trade clause to join.

McNair has placed his faith in Caserio to quarterback this challenging situation.

“We’ll just wait and see,” McNair said. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we’ll see how that works out.”

McNair made no predictions on whether a deal will be worked out by Tuesday, saying: “I have no idea.”

Unlikely to happen, according to sources, is the current assessment of a Watson deal more likely to come prior to the 2022 NFL Draft. Early analysis of prospects in the draft show few top prospects at the position, which also serves to support Caserio’s sticker price.

Not to mention, the odds are low that Watson will ultimately be traded until the offseason because of his ultra-complex and unresolved legal situation, according to multiple league sources with direct knowledge of the situation.

The Texans also want two second-round draft picks in addition to three first-rounders and one other equivalent, according to sources.

That’s an excessive cost when full context is applied.

Because Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and sexual misconduct. He is also facing 10 active criminal complaints. Eight of the complaints are from litigants represented by Houston attorney Tony Buzbee. Two of the complaints are non-litigants.

Watson is represented by prominent Houston attorney Rusty Hardin, who has represented Adrian Peterson and Roger Clemens. Hardin has denied wrongdoing on behalf of Watson. There haven’t been any charges filed by the Houston Police Department.

There hasn’t been any clarity on whether Watson will be indicted by the Houston Police Department.

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross would like Watson to resolve his lawsuits, which would be an expensive endeavor. Also, Watson doesn’t want to settle the lawsuits.

There’s no audio, video or DNA evidence incriminating Watson, according to sources.

Still, the prospect of acquiring a player with potentially major charges and the public relations storm expected to follow his arrival in any NFL city is difficult for any team to navigate.

One obstacle Watson isn’t facing right now is the commissioner-exempt list, which is the equivalent of paid leave.

Watson is currently being paid his full $10.54 million salary while not practicing or attending meetings. He reported to training camp to avoid accruing daily $50,000 fines.

The NFL is not expected to make a ruling on Watson until his legal issues are ruled upon.

That means that technically Watson is eligible to play. Right now. Today.

“We don’t have all the access to that information and pride ourselves on not interfering with it,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during a press conference at the league meetings in New York last week. “That process is ongoing There obviously are other, I’ll call it legal approaches that are being made either through civil cases. Obviously the police have been investigating also. We don’t have all the access to that information at this point in time, and we pride ourselves on not interfering in that, being cooperative as we can to make sure we get all the facts.

“But I think that process is still ongoing. Until that process is ongoing and we have enough data and enough information to be able to make a determination of whether he should go on commissioner exempt, we don’t feel that we have that necessary information at this point.”

The Carolina Panthers remain a wildcard.

The Panthers jumped back into the Watson sweepstakes for a few days before backing out of the talks. Watson, who attended Clemson, never indicated he would waive his no-trade clause for the Panthers.

The Philadelphia Eagles had strong interest in Watson, but he doesn’t want to waive his no-trade clause for the NFC East franchise, per sources.

As for next year, Watson is due a guaranteed $35 million base salary.

If Watson is charged with a crime, he would be placed on the commissioner-exempt list. Any potential trial wouldn’t happen until late next year, per legal sources.
That means Watson could miss the entire 2021 and 2022 seasons.

McNair expressed sympathy with Caserio and Culley. They didn’t ask for this mess. They’re dealing with it as best as they can.

“I think they’ve been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they’ve made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day,” McNair said. “So, we’ll see where it goes.”

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Oct 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to pass during the first quarter against the Miami Dolphins at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Sources: Deshaun Watson trade ‘not going to happen’ now

As the clock ticks down toward a Tuesday afternoon NFL deadline, the prospects of a blockbuster trade involving embattled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson have dwindled down to somewhere between an extremely unlikely scenario to zero chance of unfolding.

Here’s why a Watson trade is not expected to crystallize until the offseason at the soonest, according to multiple league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

Although the Texans, the Miami Dolphins, the team Watson has authorized waiving the no-trade clause in his $156 million contract for, and Watson are all highly motivated to make this happen, his complicated legal situation is just one of several obstacles standing in the way of a deal at this time.

“This trade is not going to happen, right now,” a source said. “I would expect this all to be revisited before free agency in March and pick up speed toward the draft in April. There’s just too much going on to expect a trade to happen. Simply put, it’s a lot.”

Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct along with 10 active criminal complaints, including eight complaints from litigants with two non-litigants, being investigated by the Houston Police Department with a grand jury in Harris County, Texas empaneled to hear the district attorney’s potential push for an indictment. While no charges have been filed by the HPD and no indictment is pending and there is no apparent audio, video or DNA evidence against the three-time Pro Bowl selection, there is still zero clarity for the Watson camp and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin, on whether he will ultimately face criminal charges.

That created a hesitancy for Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, according to sources, along with the obvious concern about the public relations fallout and potential damage to the brand by acquiring a player accused of serious allegations, albeit unproven ones.

Ross wants Watson to be unencumbered by the lawsuits or potential prosecution, according to sources. Watson does not intend to settle the cases at this time, so trade talks have reached an impasse.

Beyond the legal situation hanging over Watson, there’s also the heavy draft capital demands from the Texans, whom sources say want at least three first-round draft picks and two second-round selections or some talented players as part of a potential trade package. This is a possible franchise-altering opportunity for the rebuilding Texans, who are 1-6 and on a six-game losing streak heading into Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Rams.

Texans general manager Nick Caserio doesn’t want to squander the opportunity to capitalize on the opportunity to acquire valuable draft picks he can use to overhaul the roster and add some good football players to move on from the Watson mess he inherited when he left the New England Patriots to take over the AFC South franchise’s personnel department.

Meanwhile, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell disclosed Tuesday at the league meetings that the league doesn’t have the required information or clarity to determine whether Watson should be placed on the commissioner-exempt list, the equivalent of paid leave.

That means that Watson would be eligible to play immediately should he be traded by the NFL trade deadline next Tuesday afternoon.

Watson has not been charged with a crime and has denied wrongdoing through Hardin. At one point, the FBI investigated, including whether Watson was the victim of an extortion attempt and whether interstate human trafficking laws had been potentially violated. A grand jury has been empaneled to investigate the matter.

Under its collective bargaining agreement’s personal conduct policy, the NFL is not expected to punish Watson until his legal situation has been adjudicated.

“We don’t have all the access to that information and pride ourselves on not interfering with it,” Goodell told reporters in New York. “That process is ongoing There obviously are other, I’ll call it legal approaches that are being made either through civil cases. Obviously the police have been investigating also. We don’t have all the access to that information at this point in time, and we pride ourselves on not interfering in that, being cooperative as we can to make sure we get all the facts.

“But I think that process is still ongoing. Until that process is ongoing and we have enough data and enough information to be able to make a determination of whether he should go on commissioner exempt, we don’t feel that we have that necessary information at this point.”

None of the legal situations, including whether Watson will be indicted by a grand jury or charged directly by the HPD, is expected to be resolved by the trade deadline and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is not obviously going to rush any decision based on football matters.

No trade is imminent or likely at this time, according to sources.

The Dolphins have been Watson’s preferred destination throughout this process since he first requested a trade in January due to the former Clemson star feeling disenchanted with the organization and chairman and CEO Cal McNair because of a lack of involvement and communication in the hiring process of Caserio and coach David Culley on the heels of him first being angered by the controversial trade of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in March of 2020, according to league sources not authorized to speak publicly.

The Carolina Panthers briefly emerged as a player in the Watson situation and the quarterback respects the NFC South franchise and was somewhat open to potentially considering them as a destination should a trade have been agreed to according to sources.

However, Watson has been adamant throughout the process that the Dolphins are where he wants to go. Watson would not waive his no-trade clause for the Philadelphia Eagles, who were extremely interested in him and sent an investigator to Houston previously to investigate Watson’s legal situation, according to sources.

Watson is “intentional” in his desire to never play another down for the Texans, per sources. Watson reported to training camp to avoid accruing $50,000 daily fines. He reports to work every day to work out, but has not practiced since training camp and he no longer attends meetings, per sources. He has been inactive every week for non-injury reasons-personal matter.

In an August news conference, Hardin stated about the FBI brief involvement in the case, which originated with plaintiffs’ attorney Tony Buzbee: “In April, the FBI came to us and told us they were investigating a matter as to whether one of Mr. Buzbee’s clients had committed extortion in the way they were demanding money from Deshaun or what they would do if they didn’t pay it,” Hardin said.

One potentially bad scenario for Watson and any team that trades for him to consider: Watson possibly being charged with a crime and then being placed on the commissioner-exempt list and not going to trial until late next year and then being unavailable in 2021 and 2022 and, depending on how a possible case is adjudicated, potentially being punished for an undetermined portion of the 2023 season.

Watson is due a $35 million guaranteed base salary in 2022 and is being paid a $10.54 million base salary by the Texans this year.

Another wrinkle in the trade talks is the potential involvement of another franchise and another possible trade, not involving Watson, according to league sources.

Recently, McNair was noncommittal on the prospects of potentially trading Watson, who led the NFL in passing yards last season and is one of the most dynamic players in the NFL regardless of position.

“We’ll just wait and see,” McNair said during the Texans’ second annual Founder’s Day at the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge in Houston. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Nick is in charge of that, so we’ll see how that works out.”

When asked to rate the odds of Watson being traded by a Nov. 2 league deadline, McNair smiled and replied: “I have no idea.”

The Watson issue was inherited by Caserio and Culley.

“I think they’ve been put in a very tough spot, a spot that is not of their choosing and they’ve made the very best of it and sort of worked through it day to day,” McNair said. “So, we’ll see where it goes.”

Watson reported to training camp to avoid incurring $50,000 daily fines.

The NFL issued a statement prior to training camp.

“The NFL’s review of the serious allegations against Deshaun Watson remains ongoing and active,” the league said in an email. “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 this time, there are no restrictions on Watson’s participation in club activities.”

A source said that the NFL hasn’t been given access to speak to many of the plaintiffs in the civil cases or third parties who may have relevant information. And the league hasn’t been given access to evidence the police have gathered in their investigation.

Hardin, said during an August press conference that Watson has yet to speak to NFL investigators.

“The answer is no,” Hardin said. “Here’s the reason: The NFL regularly tries to not reach out to the defendant and his lawyers until the criminal investigation is over. They want to make sure they don’t interfere with the criminal investigation. Whenever the time is appropriate we will fully cooperate.”

That time, though, isn’t now. And the timing for a trade feels off to many close to the situation.

–By Aaron Wilson, Field Level Media

Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

Oct 25, 2018; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) reacts after a touchdown pass to wide receiver Will Fuller (not pictured) during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Goodell: NFL investigation of Deshaun Watson ‘ongoing’

Nothing to report is the status of the NFL’s investigation into Deshaun Watson’s alleged off-field conduct, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said, describing the league probe into the Houston Texans’ quarterback as “ongoing.”

Watson has been the subject of a legal investigation in Houston with allegations of sexual assault and sexual misconduct from 22 women who filed civil lawsuits.

Goodell said the NFL continues to gather information while being mindful of not interfering with the police investigation, which remains active.

“Obviously, the police have been investigating, and we don’t have access to all of that information at this point in time,” Goodell said Tuesday at the NFL owner’s meetings. “We pride ourselves on not interfering in that and in being as cooperative as we can in order to get all the facts. I think that process is still ongoing.”

Goodell has authority to place Watson on the commissioner’s exempt list at any time when, or if, the league determines his status warrants forcing him to be away from the team.

Use of the exempt list isn’t common. Goodell did exercise it to bench then-Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson amid a felony indictment for reckless or negligent injury of his son in 2014. Peterson received his full salary but was barred from all team activities, including workouts and practices.

Prior to that, Michael Vick (Philadelphia Eagles) and Jonathan Vilma (New Orleans Saints) were “unrostered” using the exemption.

Should the Texans attempt to take action on Watson’s trade demand, the NFL might decide to step in and make a firm decision on making him inactive during the investigation.

To date, league involvement hasn’t been necessary. Watson was inactive for all seven games this season and the Texans are not planning to make him active.

Tuesday is the NFL trade deadline and the Texans are reportedly asking for three first-round picks for Watson.

Watson has a no-trade clause and has only waived it for the Miami Dolphins. Watson reportedly vetoed a trade to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Carolina Panthers, meanwhile, are reportedly not pursuing a deal for Watson. The Panthers traded for current starter Sam Darnold in the offseason, but benched him during a 25-3 road loss on Sunday to the New York Giants, the team’s fourth straight loss.

–Field Level Media

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) attempts a pass as Tennessee Titans outside linebacker Harold Landry (58) defends during the fourth quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texans discussing Deshaun Watson trade with Dolphins

The Houston Texans and Miami Dolphins are in trade discussions involving beleaguered quarterback Deshaun Watson, the Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday.

According to the Chronicle, the trade could happen later this week. The NFL trade deadline is Nov. 2.

Watson hasn’t played for the Texans this season. He stands accused of sexual assault by 22 women who have filed lawsuits. Police and the NFL have ongoing investigations.

But the off-the-field behavior hasn’t prevented the Dolphins from coveting Watson. Miami reportedly has been interested since Watson informed the Texans earlier this year that he would like to be traded.

The Washington Post reported the commissioner’s exempt list could still be in play even if Watson is traded as the NFL and criminal investigations into claims against Watson remain active.

Houston has reportedly sought three first-round selections and two second-round picks in any trade for the 26-year-old Watson.

Though he is disgruntled with the Texans, Watson reported to training camp to avoid being fined $50,000 per day. He attends meetings but hasn’t played in any games.

Watson, a three-time Pro Bowl selection, has passed for 14,539 yards, 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions in 54 games (53 starts) over four seasons. He established career highs of 4,823 yards and 33 touchdowns last season while throwing a career low seven interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texans demand six players or picks for QB

Trade suitors for quarterback Deshaun Watson might be left with sticker shock based on the reported asking price from the Houston Texans.

ESPN reported Sunday morning that Houston’s price tag includes a combination of six picks or players to move Watson.

A passive participant at training camp, Watson is unlikely to play for the Texans this season.

Watson is inactive for Week 1 when the Texans kick off the regular season against the Jacksonville Jaguars under first-year coach David Culley. Watson demanded a trade in the offseason and is under investigation for allegations of sexual assault and misconduct from more than 20 women.

Because of the off-field matters, teams interested in trading for Watson are requesting contingencies on compensation, per the report Sunday.

ESPN said sources around the league confirmed general manager Nick Caserio will not trade the three-time Pro Bowler for anything less than the six combined players and picks.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) rolls out of the pocket against the Cincinnati Bengals during the third quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texans GM: ‘No definitive answer’ on Deshaun Watson

Houston Texans general manager Nick Caserio remained mum on Wednesday regarding the team’s plans for star quarterback Deshaun Watson.

The Texans kept the disgruntled quarterback on the 53-man roster, with Watson listed third on the unofficial depth chart behind veteran Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills. Field Level Media columnist Aaron Wilson reported this week that Houston could make Watson a game-day inactive this season barring a trade.

“It is really no different than what we talked about at the beginning of training camp,” Caserio said Wednesday. “Each day, we’re going to make the decision that we feel is best. I would say it’s a one-step process.

“I’m not going to get into a lot of speculation about what has happened, what didn’t happen. It’s a waste of everybody’s time, quite frankly. I would say there is no finite answer, there’s no definitive answer here at this point, and that’s how we’re going to handle it.”

Watson signed a four-year, $160 million contract last year but requested a trade over the offseason after watching the franchise part with several star players. He also reportedly was upset at not being consulted during the team’s search for a new head coach following the departure of Bill O’Brien.

Watson also stands accused of sexual assault by 22 women who have filed lawsuits, and he is reportedly the target of a grand jury investigation.

Caserio declined to comment on whether he envisions Watson playing for the Texans this season, even if the quarterback approached the team to say he was willing to.

“I’ll say he’s on the roster today, and we’re going to take it one day at a time,” Caserio said. “Deshaun’s been here every day, he’s been in training camp every day. He’s been in the building, he’s been in meetings, he’s been around his teammates. “

Taylor is expected to start the regular-season opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sept. 12. Mills is currently his primarily backup, with journeyman Jeff Driskel signed to the practice squad Wednesday.

Caserio didn’t directly respond when asked if the team would be interested in Cam Newton, who was released by the New England Patriots on Tuesday.

“We’re always going to look at what’s out there alternative-wise,” Caserio said. “If there’s a player who we feel makes sense four our team, we’ll consider it. If there’s not, then we won’t.

“Whether it’s now, whether it’s two weeks from now, whether it’s a month from now, we’ll just try to make a smart decision about players who come on our team.”

The Texans risk paying Watson $10.54 million this season to not play. They reportedly are asking for three first-round picks and two second-round picks in trade discussions for the three-time Pro Bowl selection.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks for an open receiver against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Texans QB Deshaun Watson unlikely to travel for preseason opener

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson is expected to stay home for the weekend while the team travels to Green Bay to play the Packers in the preseason opener.

General manager Nick Caserio said the team isn’t expecting Watson on board for the trip. The Texans are gingerly handling what has been an awkward situation during practices since training camp began.

Caserio, in an interview with 610 AM in Houston on Tuesday, revealed little about the state of negotiations or any pending trade offers amidst reports the franchise was now listening intently to incoming deals from multiple suitors.

Watson was largely an observer for the first two weeks of training camp. Head coach David Culley said he was dealing with a calf issue.

Culley said Watson would be “unlikely to play” vs. the Packers based on the limited number of reps he received in the new offense.

Prior to Culley being hired as head coach, Watson requested a trade. The team has reportedly shifted from its original stance of not wanting to part with Watson to looking at what might be on the table via trade.

Without Watson under center, journeyman Tyrod Taylor has worked with the first-team offense.

–Field Level Media

Dec 27, 2020; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) jogs off the field after a play against the Cincinnati Bengals during the first quarter at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson sits, Texans go ‘day to day’ with QB

Marginally involved in the first week of training camp, quarterback Deshaun Watson didn’t participate in practice with the Houston Texans on Tuesday.

Head coach David Culley said there is nothing new to report with the disgruntled quarterback, who isn’t injured but has seen his participation limited while the franchise sorts out his request to be traded.

“We’re day to day with it,” Culley said Tuesday. “The only thing that’s changed about it is we make decisions every day based on what’s best for our team and I’m going to leave it at that.”

Watson has largely participated if and when he has chosen to do so, but Culley said his approach has been “professional.”

On the first day of camp, Watson wore a non-contact jersey, was the final quarterback through in most passing and position-specific work and stood as a stationary scout team safety for much of the workout.

Since then, he’s toggled up or down his involvement but mostly served as a sounding board for quarterback Tyrod Taylor, the 31-year-old journeyman expected to start while the Texans seek a trade bounty — reportedly some combination of five high draft picks and starter-ready players — to move Watson.

Watson, who turns 26 next month, reported to training camp on time to avoid $50,000 daily fines. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct, a Houston Police Department active investigation of 10 complaints and a parallel NFL personal conduct investigation.

Watson signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension last year but frustration from a losing 2020 season, the trade of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and not being involved in discussions surrounding the team’s decisions on a new head coach reportedly sparked Watson’s request.

–Field Level Media

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Carson Wentz (2) at the start of practice at Grand Park in Westfield on Thursday, July 29, 2021, on the second full day of workouts of this summer's Colts training camp.

Colts Camp Revs Up

Around the NFL: Colts’ Carson Wentz worry on the rise

An old high school football injury is haunting quarterback Carson Wentz and the Indianapolis Colts.

Colts coach Frank Reich said a broken bone, the fifth metatarsal, is loose in Wentz’s foot, requiring a surgery that will sideline the former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback between five and 12 weeks.

The unfortunate turn of events came to light when Wentz was rolling out to throw last week. Wentz has an extensive history of injuries, including tearing his anterior cruciate ligament in 2017.

“I think it was a gut punch for him for about two hours,” Reich said. “Knowing Carson, I’m optimistic. Knowing this is the type of injury you don’t have to be pain-free to play in. You have to get to an acceptable level of tolerating pain and then you can start playing. That could happen early.”

Could.

The Colts are going forward with former University of Washington quarterback Jacob Eason as their starter until Wentz returns or something better comes along.

A former fourth-round draft pick, Eason is known for his arm strength. However, he’s never played in an NFL regular season game. The Colts also have quarterbacks Sam Ehlinger, Jalen Morton and Brett Hundley on the roster.

“The job is Jacob’s right now,” Reich said. “He has to prove it. He knows that. Jacob’s in the driver’s seat.”

The Colts traded a third-round draft pick and a conditional second-round draft pick that rises to a 2022 first-round selection should Wentz play 75 percent of the Colts’ offensive snaps, or if he plays 70 percent of the snaps and the Colts qualify for the postseason.

What if the Colts decide to pursue Chicago Bears quarterback Nick Foles? Of course, Foles won the Super Bowl with the Philadelphia Eagles when Reich was his offensive coordinator.

Foles sounded fairly intrigued by the possibility Monday during an interview with Chicago reporters.

“Listen, Frank Reich is one of my favorite, if not favorite, coaches of all time,” Foles said. “He understands me as a player, he understands me as a person. I haven’t had any talks with him. I’m a Chicago Bear right now.

“They have Carson and Carson and I have a lot of history. I have a lot of respect for Carson, he’s a tremendous player. He’s going through a lot of adversity right now but he’ll bounce back. You know what, he might miss a few games but I know he’ll be back out there. But we haven’t had any talks and right now I’m a Chicago Bear so I’m going to keep slinging it with these third-stringers and we’re going to dice ’em up.”

–Vikings use tele-QB to solve COVID issues
The Minnesota Vikings are embroiled in an early COVID-19 crisis.

After rookie quarterback Kellen Mond, a third-round draft pick from Texas A&M, tested positive for COVID-19, he was placed on the reserve-COVID-19 list along with starting quarterback Kirk Cousins and Nate Stanley as high-risk close contacts.

Although the Vikings have claimed quarterback Danny Etling off waivers and signed quarterback Case Cookus, the situation irked coach Mike Zimmer because of how it disrupted practice as Jake Browning was the only quarterback available for a Saturday night practice session.

“You know, quite honestly, after everything we went through last year, I’m not surprised one bit,” Zimmer said. “I am disappointed that this happened. I’m frustrated, not just with my football players who didn’t get vaccinated, but I’m frustrated with everybody [who didn’t]. We’ll just do the best we can. It’s just disappointing.”

–Awkward situation in Houston
This is a strange and awkward time between disgruntled Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans.

The NFL’s passing yardage leader from last season has a standing trade request and a no-trade clause in his $156 million contract, but reported to training camp to avoid $50,000 daily fines. Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual assault and/or sexual misconduct, a Houston Police Department active investigation of 10 complaints and a parallel NFL personal conduct investigation.

Watson remains a popular figure with his teammates.

The Texans’ players appear to be effectively and calmly compartmentalizing the situation, expressing support for Watson as a person while staying out of his unresolved business with management. They’re also embracing journeyman Tyrod Taylor, 31, as their new leader and quarterback.

“Absolutely, me and Deshaun are friends,” said Taylor, who has the same private quarterbacks coach, Quincy Avery, as Watson. “We’ve known each other for a number of years now. We’ve had conversations on the field, off the field, about football, about life. Everything has been a positive conversation, and it will continue to be that way.”

When asked if Watson’s ongoing presence at training camp is perhaps a distraction, Taylor replied: “No, it hasn’t. He’s part of the team. When we come out here, we’re all focused on working and getting better at every aspect. That’s different for every person.”

As complex and sensitive as the Watson legal situation continues to be with no resolution in sight with settlement talks inactive between the quarterback, who has denied wrongdoing through his attorney, Rusty Hardin, and the plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, Watson and teammates seem to be getting along great.

Watson frequently talks with offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, wide receiver Brandin Cooks and Taylor at practice, where he’s essentially an modestly invested observer.

“Deshaun, that’s my guy, love him to death,” Texans defensive end Whitney Mercilus said. “Hate what’s happened to him. Just bring it for him every day honestly. Man, everything will sort itself out. God got it. I know that for a fact. He’s my guy at the end of the day.”

–Deadline in Buffalo
The clock is ticking in Buffalo in ongoing contract talks between star quarterback Josh Allen and Bills management.

It’s not two-minute drill time, but it’s approaching that kind of sense of urgency in Buffalo.

Bills general manager Brandon Beane underscored that business reality on Monday when he affirmed that he has set a preseason deadline to hammer out a blockbuster contract extension with the strong-armed former first-round draft pick from Wyoming.

If a deal isn’t completed before the first week of September, Beane indicated that talks would be tabled until next year. The Bills previously exercised a $23 million fifth-year option for Allen.

“Josh and I are in lockstep on that,” Beane said. “There will be no negotiating in-season. At some point we will press the pause button.”

–Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun and is on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

Jan 3, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) warms up before a game against the Tennessee Titans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Texans listening to trade offers for Deshaun Watson

First-year general manager Nick Caserio and the Houston Texans are listening to trade offers for quarterback Deshaun Watson, according to multiple reports.

The shift comes after Watson reported to training camp on Sunday. Caserio and head coach David Culley said during the offseason, even after sexual assault and misconduct allegations arose against Watson, that the Texans had “no interest” in trading the franchise quarterback.

Watson signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension last year but frustration from a losing season, the trade of wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and not being involved in discussions surrounding the team’s decisions on a new head coach sparked Watson’s request.

Watson’s personal quarterback coach, Quincy Avery, told ESPN he expected Watson to be traded not long after reporting to camp.

However, the Texans have not yet received any trade offers they consider “serious,” according to ESPN.

The team begins training camp on-field practice work on Monday.

How the Texans move forward at quarterback and if they allow Watson to take part in those practices while on the trade block is unclear.

Watson also faces 21 active claims of sexual assault and inappropriate behavior from women he largely met through massage therapy sessions.

–Field Level Media