Texans lose draft pick, fined $175K for salary cap violation

HOUSTON — The Houston Texans will forfeit their original fifth-round selection in the 2023 NFL Draft and have been fined $175,000 for salary cap reporting violations involving former quarterback Deshaun Watson, the NFL announced Thursday.

After a review, the NFL determined that the Texans provided Watson compensation in the form of membership at an alternate athletic facility in 2020 at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Texans said they “absorbed $26,777 in costs for the player’s benefit for the use of alternate athletic facilities.” The team said it believed the amount “should have been taken in lieu of the players’ salaries.”

In accordance with the collective bargaining agreement, teams must report a player’s compensation or benefits. The Texans believed the payment did not provide any salary cap benefits and viewed it as an accounting error.

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 salary cap rules or gain any competitive advantage.” ” “While we disagree with the league’s decision, we will accept the discipline imposed and move forward.”

The NFL originally took the fourth-round pick from the Texans and fined him $250,000, but those penalties were reduced on appeal, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

After losing a fifth-round selection and receiving a compensatory seventh-rounder later Thursday, the Texans now have 11 selections in this year’s NFL draft, including the No. Cleveland Browns in March 2022.

Following that deal, the Browns signed Watson to a five-year, $230 million contract.

He was suspended for 11 games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the NFL, on a massage therapist. He was also fined $5 million and required to attend a mandatory treatment program.

Watson was accused by more than two dozen women of sexual assault and other misconduct during massage sessions before sitting out the entire 2021 season. During the summer, he agreed to settle 23 of the 24 cases against him. Two cases are pending against him, one of which has been filed on October 13. Two other women filed criminal complaints against Watson but did not prosecute him.

ESPN’s Jake Trotter contributed to this report.

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