The Perfect Enemy | Texans stripped of NFL draft pick for violation on Deshaun Watson perk - USA TODAY
May 15, 2024

Texans stripped of NFL draft pick for violation on Deshaun Watson perk – USA TODAY

Texans stripped of NFL draft pick for violation on Deshaun Watson perk  USA TODAYView Full Coverage on Google News

The Houston Texans will be stripped of their original fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL draft and fined $175,000 over “a salary cap reporting violation,” the league announced Thursday.

The NFL opened an investigation into the organization and determined that the Texans provided then-quarterback Deshaun Watson “with undisclosed compensation in the form of a membership at an alternative athletic facility in 2020.”

The team admitted in a statement that the issue stemmed from $26,777 in payments made to an athletic facility during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed Watson to train while the team’s practice facility was shuttered. Houston cited an accounting error and said it would accept the discipline, though it did not agree with the ruling.

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FILE - Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson speaks to the media following an NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. The NFL suspended Watson for six games on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022 for violating its personal conduct policy following accusations of sexual misconduct made against him by two dozen women in Texas, two people familiar with the decision said. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

In its statement announcing the discipline, the NFL said that all teams, per the collective bargaining agreement jointly agreed upon by the league and the NFL Players Association, “must report any player compensation or benefit.”

What have the Houston Texans said about the matter?

According to Pro Football Talk, the Houston Texans released a statement Thursday in which the team said it disagreed with the ruling, but will accept the discipline.

“During the 2020 league year and while its facilities were closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the club absorbed $26,777 in costs for player benefits for the use of alternate athletic facilities, which it understands should have been charged instead to player salaries,” the Texans said in a statement. “The club has fully cooperated with the league in its investigation of these matters and maintains that it had no intention to circumvent any salary cap rules or gain any sort of competitive advantage. While we disagree with the league’s ruling, we will accept the imposed discipline and move forward.”

How does this affect the Houston Texans in the NFL draft?

While the Texans will lose their original fifth-round selection, the team still has several prime pieces of draft capital, including the second and 12th overall picks in the first round. Houston is also scheduled to select in the second round (33rd overall), twice in the third round (65th and 73rd overall), once in the fourth round and four times in the sixth round. The Texans also received a seventh-round compensatory pick later on Thursday.

At the time that the violation occurred, Houston’s head coach and general manager was current Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien and the executive vice president of football operations was Jack Easterby, both of whom have since been fired.

What is the relationship between the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson?

Watson had been the starting quarterback of the team after Houston traded up to No. 12 in the 2017 NFL draft to select him. Watson enjoyed success early in Houston, earning three Pro Bowl nominations in four seasons. In January 2021, however, Watson demanded a trade from the organization. Shortly after the trade demand, a series of civil lawsuits alleged that Watson engaged in sexual misconduct against more than two dozen massage therapists.

Eventually, in March 2022, Watson waived his no-trade clause and joined the Browns after they reached agreement on a five-year, fully-guaranteed $230 million contract. Watson was suspended the first 11 games of the 2022 season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, stemming from the allegations in the civil lawsuits. Disciplinary officer Sue L. Robinson, a retired judge, wrote in her findings that she believed Watson “engaged in sexual assault (as defined by the NFL) against the four therapists identified in the Report.” 

Watson has repeatedly maintained his innocence.