As a young National Football League quarterback, Deshaun Watson doesn’t have the financial pedigree of older and more successful quarterbacks like Tom Brady, Aaron Rogers and Drew Brees. But he may well get there someday, and sooner than one might think.
Watson, the promising young quarterback of the Houston Texans, has an estimated net worth of between $4 million and $9 million in 2020, primarily due to his rookie contract signed in 2017, which is worth $13.84 million over a four-year period ending after the 2020-21 NFL season. Of that amount, $8 million came in an immediate signing bonus.
With an annual salary of $3.78 million in the 2019 season, Watson is at the lower end of the NFL quarterback salary pool – for now. If he stays healthy (which has been a problem early in Watson’s career) there’s no reason why Watson can’t join the ranks of high-echelon quarterbacks like Brady and Rogers and earn a new contract that worth well over $100 million when his current contract comes to an end.
Watson's Early Life
Deshaun Watson (full name Derrick Deshaun Watson) was born on Sept. 14, 1995, in Gainesville, Fla.
Watson is the son of Deann Watson and Don Richardson (who was not around for the majority of Watson’s childhood), and like many profiles of famous athletes, Watson’s close ties to his mother serves as an important back story.
In Watson’s case, the story of Deann’s courageous struggle against stage-5 tongue cancer is now widely known. Her son ultimately dedicated his success to his mother and family – another story that is well known to those surrounding Deshaun Watson, on the field and off as he grew up in the Gainesville area.
In fact, professional football and family played a big role in Deshaun Watson’s childhood.
In 2006, then Tampa Bay Buccaneer Warrick Dunn, one of the best running backs in the NFL, gave the Watson family the keys to a new home built through Dunn’s favorite charity, Habitat for Humanity. Deshaun Watson was only 11 years old but he was struck over Dunn’s generosity and what it meant to him personally.
“I felt grown having my own room,” Watson said in an interview with the Associated Press. “Just having my own bed, not really being squished, not really worrying about someone sneaking up on me, it was a great moment, a special moment.”
Growing up without a father in his life was not easy. Watson has said on social media that he felt “cold” growing up without a father figure, but with immense inner strength and a love for football, Watson made his mark quickly as a young quarterback at Gainesville High School. Watson was so impressive, in fact, that Gainesville High football coach Bruce Miller started Watson as a freshman something he had never done before while coaching high school football.
Miller knew what he was doing. Before Watson was done at Gainesville High he had shattered state records in total touchdowns (rushing and passing) and total passing yardage. In Watson’s junior year, Gainesville won a state championship. During his sophomore and senior year campaigns, Watson led Gainesville High to the state semifinals, setting a standard of on the field excellence he would demonstrate later in college and at the NFL level.
A Clemson Tiger
Watson signed on with Clemson University in 2014 with an eye on playing football in the tough and highly competitive Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), a conference that included historic gridiron stalwarts like Florida State University and the University of Miami.
In Watson’s first start, on Sept. 21, 2014, he tossed six touchdown passes against North Carolina, a school record. Despite nagging injuries for the rest of his freshman year, Watson’s gridiron star only ascended.
Watson, fully healthy for his sophomore year, led the Clemson Tigers to a 12-and-0 record and a date with vaunted Alabama in the 2016 NCAA championship game. Clemson lost that game, 45-40, with Watson throwing for four touchdowns and ultimately setting an NCAA football record by becoming the first player ever to through for 4,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in a single season.
Clemson and Watson got their revenge the following year, beating Alabama in the 2017 NCAA title game by a score of 35-31, with Watson clinching the title with a last-minute touchdown pass. He earned MVP honors for his play in what would be Watson’s last college football game.
Houston, We Have a Quarterback
With an early college communications studies degree in hand, Watson declared for the NFL draft in 2016, and was drafted by the Houston Texans in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Watson was drafted behind two future NFL starting quarterbacks – Patrick Mahomes for the Kansas City Chiefs and Mitchell Trubisky for the Chicago Bears. That’s a sore point for Bear fans (although not for Chiefs fans) as Watson has easily outplayed Trubisky in their first three years in the league.
Case in point – Watson racked up touchdowns and signature wins over the Cincinnati Bengals, Tennessee Titans (by a score of 57-14), and an eye-opening near-miss against the powerful New England Patriots, where Tom Brady barely outdueled the rookie Watson in a 36-33 nail biter that came down to the last minute.
For the month of October in his rookie year, Watson was named AFC Offensive Player of the Month and the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Month – both high honors for a young quarterback playing one of the toughest positions in all of sports.
Injuries sidelined Watson for the rest of 2017 but rebounded strongly in 2018, leading the Texans to signature wins over the Steelers, Colts and Cowboys, along with another near-miss against the Patriots. He finished the year with 26 touchdown passes and over 4,000 passing yards and led the Texans to the NFL playoffs, where they would fall to the Colts and Andrew Luck on wild-card weekend.
This past season, Watson has accelerated into higher gear, leading the Texans back into the playoffs, and a thrilling 22-19 win over the Buffalo Bills – a game where the Texans were down 16-0. In doing so, Watson made one of the signature plays of this or any other season, spinning away from multiple Bills pass rushers at the last second to complete a pass to Taiwan Jones that set up the game-winning field goal in overtime.
Cool and calm, Watson said the play wasn’t anything unique – his team needed him to make a big play and he made it. “The pressure was there,” he told reporters after the game. “I just kind of braced myself and spun out of it, and I knew exactly where Taiwan was going to be at. That's why I kind of flicked it out to him.”
No matter what transpires during the rest of the NFL playoffs, the world has been formally introduced to Deshaun Watson, NFL superstar, with the promise of more superstar play from the kid from Gainesville in NFL stadiums for years to come.
Affable, intelligent and with no hint of scandal, Deshaun Watson is a solid role model for consumers, especially younger ones who love football.
Watson also has a soft spot in his heart for the under-privileged and the working poor. In 2017, Watson donated his first three game checks, valued at over $27,000, to three cafeteria employees with NRG Stadium (home of the Texans) who were displaced from their homes after Hurricane Harvey.
He was typically modest and appreciative when he handed over the check.
"For what you all do for us every day and never complain, I really appreciate you all, so I wanted to give my first game check to y'all to help y'all out in some type of way," Watson said to the women in a video issued by the Texans. "Here you guys go."
Deshaun Watson has a big heart when it comes to family and charity, but he likes the finer things in life, too.
Take his passion for high-end classic vehicles. Among his four-wheel treasures is a Bentley worth $200,000 and a Lamborghini valued at a staggering $1.5 million.
Watson is single and is reportedly dating Jilly Anais, an Instagram model.