Deshaun Watson has become a symbol of stasis

The NFL decided it was time to get back to normal.

Texans can only dream of getting back to normal, so they act like they only have time.

The league and its players’ association agreed to lift all COVID-19 protocols, the comprehensive set of rules that included testing, tracking and limitations on players and coaches mingling at team facilities.

Those who took the long odds that Deshaun Watson would remain a Texan longer than COVID rules were in place can now cash in, as one of the most anomalous situations in NFL history continues.

Representatives for Watson first requested a trade about 13 months ago. The wait continues.

The Texans are no closer to trading the star quarterback now than they were when he originally asked.

It’s bizarre — and complicated by Watson’s legal troubles. He faces 22 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct. There’s also a criminal investigation into Watson’s conduct and a near-certain suspension from the NFL, pending the league’s investigation into the allegations.

Many legal experts have said criminal charges are unlikely and civil lawsuits will end in settlements, but those are just guesses.

Due to the uncertainty, teams have been reluctant to make market value trade offers for Watson, who led the NFL in passing yards in 2020.

The 26-year-old didn’t play last season despite being healthy. The Texans did not suspend him and he never announced that he was refusing to play.

So he earned $10.5 million to see the Texans win four games. This year, Watson is on the books for a hefty $35 million payday.

If neither team makes a suitable offer, will the Texans throw away so much money?

Texas officials have no idea how or when this will be resolved.

“We’re day-to-day in terms of handling this,” Texans general manager Nick Caserio told the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. “Once the information becomes more relevant or widespread, we will process it accordingly.”

Day by day? In other words, Caserio has no idea when or what it will be.

It is generally understood that Watson will be traded, but even that is not 100% certain.

As for a trade, in the case of Watson, it takes three to tango.

Finding a trade partner is one thing, but Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which means he must approve any team the Texans trade him to. Plus, the Texans don’t just want to give it away.

Eventually, something has to give.

“I know Deshaun is a great football player,” Texans coach Lovie Smith said. “Great football players have to play somewhere in the NFL. I hope that happens. If it’s not at home, somewhere else.

“As I see it in this situation, we’re both going to benefit from this situation, and I just can’t wait for it to pick up speed a bit.”

Maybe Smith’s “if not with us” phrasing is coaching language, but I assure you he would love to have number 4 in a Texans uniform this season.

Miami was thought to be one of the most likely landing spots for Watson. He reportedly agreed to a trade, and the Dolphins tried to make a deal with Houston.

But on Wednesday, Dolphins general manager Chris Grier said “the door is closed on Deshaun.”

As hard as it is to believe, considering how much better Watson is than Miami starter Tua Tagovailoa, wherever Watson lands, controversy will follow.

The Dolphins have had enough already.

Not only did the team undergo a head coaching change, but they face an NFL investigation after former head coach Brian Flores accused owner Stephen Ross of offering money to Flores to lose games on purpose.

Flores, a runner-up for the Texans job before Smith was hired on the fly, sued the NFL for discrimination in its hiring practices.

Caserio said the Texans had a distant view of Watson.

“I think the only constraint is the discussion that (the media) had,” he said. “You probably spent more time on it than us, I think.”

We know that’s not true, but it sounds good.

For now, all those most involved can do is wait.

“We would like a quick resolution, but I’m also a patient man, and time normally takes care of everything,” Smith said. “We understand it’s the second year, and I know Deshaun wants to play, and it will come to a head. I have faith in that.

“We just have to give it some time, and I hope everyone is happy with it. I’m sure it will.

Over time, he says. On time.

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James V. Hayes