Watson made his first career start on September 14, 2017, which was his 22nd birthday, during Thursday Night Football on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals. He finished with 125 passing yards, 67 rushing yards, and a 49-yard rushing touchdown as the Texans won 13–9. During Week 3 against the defending Super Bowl champion, the New England Patriots, Watson finished with 301 passing yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions while also rushing for 41 yards as the Texans lost 36–33. During Week 4 against the Tennessee Titans, he completed 25-of-34 passes for 283 yards, 4 touchdowns, and an interception while also rushing for 24 yards and a touchdown as the Texans won 57–14. His 5 total scores tied the NFL rookie touchdown record. He is also the first rookie to pass for at least four touchdowns and rush for one touchdown in a game since Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton did so for the Minnesota Vikings in 1961. His performance in Week 4 earned him AFC Offensive Player of the Week. Watson followed up his Week 4 performance with another great outing, this time on Sunday Night Football against the Kansas City Chiefs. In the 42–34 loss, Watson finished 16-of-31 for 261 yards and 5 touchdown passes, tying an NFL rookie record for touchdown passes thrown in a single game. He also rushed for 31 yards and a 2-point conversion. During Week 6, Watson threw for 225 yards, 3 touchdowns, and an interception while also rushing for 23 yards as the Texans beat the Cleveland Browns by a score of 33–17. After a bye week, the Texans went on the road to face off the Seattle Seahawks. During that game, Watson posted his first career game with over 400 passing yards. He finished with 402 passing yards, 4 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, and 67 rushing yards as the Texans lost 41–38. Watson threw 16 touchdowns in the month of October, setting the NFL record for most touchdown passes by a rookie in a calendar month. He was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Month and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month for October.
Derrick Deshaun Watson (born September 14, 1995) is an American football quarterback for the Houston Texans of the National Football League (NFL). He played college football at Clemson, where he led the team to a national championship win in 2016. Watson was selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft, 12th overall, by the Texans.
Watson was born in Gainesville, Georgia on September 14, 1995, to Deann Watson and Don Richardson. He attended Gainesville High School, arriving there in the fall of 2010. He played for the Red Elephants football team. Gainesville head coach Bruce Miller had planned to start a rising junior to quarterback his spread offense, but Watson won the starting spot. He was the first freshman quarterback Coach Miller had ever started.
In Week 17 against the Tennessee Titans, Watson threw for 365 yards, three touchdowns, and one interception during the 41–38 loss. Overall, Watson finished the 2020 season with 4,823 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Watson's 2020 season was by all major statistical measures the best in franchise history, leading in passing touchdowns, passing yards, and passer rating. Watson led the NFL in passing yards for the 2020 season. He became the first player to lead the league in passing yards on a team with at least 12 losses since Jeff George of the Oakland Raiders in 1997.
On November 2, Watson tore his ACL on a non-contact play during practice, prematurely ending his rookie season. In 7 games (6 starts) of his rookie year, Watson finished with 1,699 passing yards, 19 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. He also rushed for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. On November 8, Watson underwent successful surgery on his right knee to repair his ACL, and no further knee damage was reported. Watson was ranked 50th by his peers on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2018. He was named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team, becoming the second Texans quarterback to receive this award since David Carr in 2002.
In the fall of 2016, Watson became the first player since Jason White in 2003–2004 to win the Davey O'Brien Award in back-to-back years. That year he was also selected as the winner of the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award and was the first repeat winner of the Manning Award. For the second year in row, Watson was named one of five Heisman Trophy candidates, along with Michigan's Jabrill Peppers, Oklahoma's Baker Mayfield and Dede Westbrook, and Louisville's Lamar Jackson. He again came up short of winning, as Louisville's Lamar Jackson was awarded the Heisman Trophy for his efforts and performances throughout the 2016 season, finishing with nearly twice as many first-place votes as Watson.
Watson is a Christian and converted to the Southern Baptist Convention after coming to Houston. In 2006, when Watson was 11, Atlanta Falcons running back Warrick Dunn donated a home to his family. It was donated through Dunn's charity Homes for the Holidays, who partnered with Habitat for Humanity. In 2017, Watson donated his first NFL game check to three cafeteria employees affected by Hurricane Harvey who work at the Houston Texans' NRG Stadium. The total amount donated was around $27,000.
Watson received offers from numerous colleges before verbally committing to Clemson University on February 1, 2012, to play college football. He was ranked the number one quarterback recruit for the 2014 class by ESPN 300.
Watson enrolled at Clemson in January 2014. During his high school career, Watson had worn #4. At Clemson, that number had been retired after quarterback Steve Fuller graduated. However, Fuller allowed the number to come out of retirement so that Watson could wear it. He entered his true freshman season as the backup to starter Cole Stoudt, but still received extensive playing time. Through three games, he completed 29-of-41 passes for 479 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions, outperforming Stoudt. Watson was named the Tigers' starter on September 21. In Watson's first career start against the North Carolina Tar Heels, he set a school record with six touchdown passes and threw for 435 yards en route to a 50–35 victory.
On October 11, 2014, Watson broke a bone in his right hand in a game against the Louisville Cardinals. He left in the first quarter and was out for the game. As a result of the injury, he missed the games against Boston College, Syracuse, and Wake Forest. He returned for the game against Georgia Tech only to suffer an LCL strain, missing most of the game. During the following week in practice it was reported that Watson had tweaked his knee. He did not play against Georgia State the following week, but came back the following week to play against state rival South Carolina. After defeating the Gamecocks, it was revealed to the public that Watson had played the game with a torn ACL. He underwent surgery on his left knee to repair his ACL the Friday before Clemson's bowl game against Oklahoma.
In 2015, Watson led Clemson to an undefeated 12–0 regular season and a #1 ranking in the polls. After the regular season, the Tigers qualified for the ACC Championship Game, facing off against #10 North Carolina. Watson threw for 289 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 131 yards and two touchdowns in the game, to lead the Tigers to a 45–37 win over the Tar Heels, winning the ACC Championship for the first time since 2011. Watson was also named the ACC Championship Game MVP for his performance.
Watson started his junior season off positively with 248 passing yards, one touchdown, and one interception in a narrow 19–13 victory over the Auburn Tigers. On October 1, against Louisville, Watson finished with 306 passing yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions in the 42–36 victory. Watson finished with 378 passing yards and two touchdowns against Florida State on October 29, 2016, rallying to a 37–34 win. Against Syracuse on November 5, 2016, he had 169 passing yards with two touchdowns, but left the game with an apparent shoulder injury. On November 26, against South Carolina, he passed for 347 yards, six touchdowns, and one interception in the 56–7 victory.
On November 8, 2016, Watson, along with three other Clemson players, Wayne Gallman, Artavis Scott, and Mike Williams, declared for the NFL Draft. In December 2016, Watson graduated with a degree in Communication after three years at Clemson.
On May 12, 2017, the Texans signed Watson to a four-year, $13.84 million contract featuring an $8.21 million signing bonus.
Watson made his first regular-season appearance on September 10, 2017, against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He entered the game after Tom Savage was benched at halftime. He played for the remainder of the game. In the third quarter, he threw his first NFL touchdown, a 4-yard pass to wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. He finished with 102 passing yards, a touchdown, and an interception, as the Texans lost by a score of 29–7.
On September 9, 2018, against the New England Patriots in the season opener, Watson returned from injury and threw for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception and rushed eight times for 40 yards as the Texans lost by a score of 20–27. During Week 2 against the Tennessee Titans, Watson passed for 310 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception while also rushing for 44 yards as the Texans lost by a score of 17–20. In Week 3, against the New York Giants, Watson passed for 385 passing yards, two touchdowns, and one interception in the 27–22 loss. He also rushed for 36 yards.
In the season opener against the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, Watson completed 20 of 30 passes for 268 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception while also rushing for 40 yards and a touchdown as the Texans narrowly lost by a score of 30–28. During a Week 3 27–20 road victory against the Los Angeles Chargers, he threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, including a 53-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Akins. Watson was named AFC Offensive Player of the Week due to his spectacular performance. Two weeks later against the Atlanta Falcons, Watson threw for 426 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions for a perfect passer rating in the 53–32 victory; earning him his second AFC Offensive Player of the Week award. In the next game against the Kansas City Chiefs, Watson threw for 280 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also rushed 10 times for 42 yards and two touchdowns in the 31–24 road victory. During Week 8 against the Oakland Raiders, he had 279 passing yards and three passing touchdowns in the 27–24 victory. During a play near the end of the fourth quarter, Watson was kicked in the eye by defensive end Arden Key's cleat while escaping a sack and blindly threw a touchdown pass to tight end Darren Fells. During Week 13 against the New England Patriots on Sunday Night Football, he threw for 234 yards and 3 touchdowns and caught a six-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a 28–22 victory, en route to his third AFC Offensive Player of the Week award of the season. Watson helped lead the Texans to a 10–6 record and an AFC South title in 2019. He finished the season with 3,852 passing yards, 26 passing touchdowns, and 12 interceptions to go along with 413 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns.
On January 21, 2019, Watson was named to his first Pro Bowl, replacing the Super Bowl bound Tom Brady. He was ranked 51st by his fellow players on the NFL Top 100 Players of 2019.
On March 16, 2021, a massage therapist from Houston, Texas filed a civil lawsuit delivered by plaintiff attorney Tony Buzbee against Watson claiming that he touched her with the tip of his erect penis while asking her for sex during a visit to her home for treatment in March 2020. Watson vehemently denied Buzbee's claims, stating that "I have never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect." According to the suit, the massage therapist immediately ended their session and began crying after the incident. According to the lawsuit, a couple of weeks later, two additional NFL players contacted the massage therapist and said that Watson had recommended her for massages. The suit also claimed that Watson later reached out to the massage therapist and apologized to her for his actions.
On April 28, 2020, the Texans exercised the fifth-year option on Watson's contract. On September 5, 2020, Watson signed a four-year, $177.5 million contract extension with the Texans with $111 million in guarantees, keeping him under contract through the 2025 season. This was the second biggest contract in NFL history after Patrick Mahomes' contract.
The next day, another massage therapist represented by Buzbee claimed that Watson had met her at The Houstonian Hotel in August 2020 and completely undressed and refused to cover up. She then alleged that Watson directed her to massage his anus and penis and made a movement that caused her to touch his penis. The massage therapist also claimed that Watson had only paid her half the amount of what she charged him for her services. Buzbee later made a post on Instagram stating that there were a total of nine lawsuits filed against Watson alleging assault.
In Week 15 against the Indianapolis Colts, Watson threw for 373 yards and two touchdowns during the 27–20 loss. Watson was fined $7,500 by the Texans in December 2020 for violating the league's COVID-19 protocols after he and several teammates gathered at the opening of his new restaurant without wearing face masks. In Week 16 against the Cincinnati Bengals, Watson threw for 324 yards and three touchdowns during the 37–31 loss.
On March 18, 2021, a third civil lawsuit was filed against Watson alleging that Watson forced a massage therapist to perform oral sex on him in an office building in December 2020. The suit claims that Watson forcibly made the massage therapist perform oral sex on his penis and she blacked out a few minutes later. The therapist claims that after Watson left, she was shaken and defecated on herself. The same day, the NFL announced that they would conduct their investigation into the sexual assault allegations made against Watson.
On March 19, 2021, Buzbee claimed that nine more civil suits had been filed against Watson (bringing it to a total of twelve) and that a total of 22 women contacted his office regarding Watson's conduct while receiving massages. Buzbee also said that he planned on seeking out the Houston Police Department and the Harris County District Attorney's Office to investigate the situation and potentially pursue criminal charges against Watson. One of the nine new civil suits filed against Watson alleged that he attempted to forcibly kiss a woman and another suit alleged that he tried assaulting the same woman on two separate occasions.
On March 22, 2021, a 14th lawsuit was filed by a woman who called Watson a "serial predator." The incident allegedly took place in California, just the second of the 14 allegations to take place outside the Houston area. The traveling massage therapist alleged that when she arrived at the address Watson gave her, he led her to a room and "locked the doors behind him." After Watson allegedly "forced Plaintiff's hand onto his penis" during the massage, he allegedly told her, "I will not have you sign an NDA but don't ever talk about this." The plaintiff also alleges that Watson reached out on Instagram in December "acting as if nothing had happened."
On April 7, 2021, Nike suspended their endorsement deal with Watson and Beats By Dre stopped sponsoring him. Reliant Energy and H-E-B both stated that they did not plan on engaging with Watson in the future.