The Houston Texans must forfeit their 2023 fifth-round NFL Draft pick after the league determined they broke a rule involving the salary cap. The rules violation involved Deshaun Watson — who hasn’t played a down for the Texans in more than two years.
“Following a review, the NFL determined that the club provided then Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson with undisclosed compensation in the form of a membership at an alternative athletic facility in 2020,” the NFL announced.
NFL Strips Houston Texans of Draft Pick
Watson was preparing for the 2020 season at the time — the last year in which he would suit up for the Texans. He demanded a trade the following offseason, and the Texans ultimately complied — but not until Watson was accused of sexual misconduct by more than 20 massage therapists.
The ensuing lawsuit and multiple investigations into Watson’s behavior made him untradeable for all of 2021. The Texans ultimately were able to deal him to the Cleveland Browns in early 2022, but not before Watson settled.
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He served an 11-game suspension in 2022 but is eligible to play in 2023.
The Texans disputed the NFL’s account of events in a statement:
“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 Club has fully cooperated with the League in its investigation of these matters and maintains it had 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.”
However, the NFL apparently didn’t buy that rationale and took away one of the Texans’ six Day 3 picks. The league also fined the Texans $175,000.
Updated List of Houston Texans Draft Picks
Even after the league action, the Texans still have the most draft capital of all 32 NFL teams — thanks, in no small part, to the Watson trade.
The Texans have two picks in the first round (second and 12th overall), one in the second (33rd), and two in the third (65th and 73rd). Their extra first and third originally belonged to the Browns.
On Day 3, Houston has a fourth-rounder, four sixth-rounders, and a seventh.
In other words, the Texans still have plenty of ammo left over to move up from No. 2 to No. 1 overall to ensure they land the quarterback they want.