HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The Houston Texans have been disciplined over salary cap reporting involving former quarterback Deshaun Watson dating back to 2020, the NFL announced.
The Texans will forfeit a fifth-round draft pick after an NFL review determined that the team did not report that a specific amount was paid for a gym membership for Waston to train at while their facility was closed, during the early months of the COVID pandemic, sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Schefter adds that the team claims the $26,000 compensated to Watson for the gym gave them no salary-cap advantage.
According to the NFL, all clubs must report any player compensation or benefit per the salary cap requirements in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
In addition to losing a pick in the upcoming draft, the team has also been fined $175,000.
For their part, the Texans said in a statement that it did not intend to circumvent salary cap rules and that they will accept the league's punishment even though they don't agree with it.
The statement reads:
"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 that it had no 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."
Scrutinized gym dues spent at luxury resort
While neither the NFL nor the Texans offered a breakdown of the gym costs that surpass $26,000, an NFL source told Eyewitness Sports that the money was paid to the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa, an exclusive River Oaks resort.
The Houstonian Club specifically boasts indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a heated and cooled lap pool, saunas and steam rooms, and "next level" indoor turf, among other amenities it lists on its website.
"Houstonian Club Membership initiation fees range from $7,500 to $33,000 + tax depending on the type of Membership purchased," the gym's membership page states.
How Houstonian Club played role in Watson allegations
The year in question of the league violation falls within the timing of several of the sexual misconduct allegations against Watson, who settled most of the more than 20 lawsuits brought against him by women hired to serve massage services.
ABC13 reached out to attorney Tony Buzbee, who represents the women who accused the former Texans star.
According to Buzbee, about five of the accusers had arranged appointments with Watson at the Houstonian, adding that all of them went on to be allegedly assaulted there.
When asked whether the Texans are partly to blame for what allegedly happened at the Houstonian, Buzbee simply said, "The Texans were sued and settled. Nothing else to say on that subject."