While the football world is focused on Tampa Bay and the Super Bowl battle between the Bucs and Chiefs, a thousand miles away in Houston, a Texas size drama is unfolding that may very well help decide one of the teams going to next year’s big game.
In an era where star players can demand to be moved (Houston knows this all too well after the James Harden drama), the Texans are dealing with a disgruntled star QB in Deshaun Watson. Watson has made it known that he does not want to play for the Texans anymore, even after signing a huge contract extension this past off-season. But that is a story for another day.
What matters here, is what can the Texans get for a 25-year-old signal caller who has a chance to be one of the game’s best. They need to be able to make a move without taking pennies on the dollar for him. Watson may be unhappy in Houston, but the Texans need to be sure that whatever they get for him will allow the team to remain competitive, or risk alienating other great players like JJ Watt.
Finding a landing spot for him will not be the tough part, but who will be able to give the Texans the best return is paramount here. I have identified 8 teams that have a need at QB and have the wherewithal to make the deal.
Only the Top 5 contenders will be discussed, but here are the 3 honorable mentions:
NY Jets – the new regime still has to decide if Sam Darnold is going to be the man to lead this team, or is it time to punt.
Chicago Bears – With all the money they laid out for Nick Foles, trying to assume the contract of Watson as well may be a tad too much.
Washington Football Team – With the release of Dwayne Haskins, and the question marks surrounding Alex Smith, Watson would be a perfect fit here. The issue is, they don’t have much draft capital to offer, as they have the 19th pick in this draft, and that is just too low a pick to entice the Texans.
So, which five teams have the best shot at landing a franchise QB? In reverse order they are:
5) New England Patriots – After watching their former QB lead his new team to the Super Bowl, there is no doubt the Pats would have a lot of interest in Watson. Especially after suffering through a 7-9 season and watching Cam Newton turn into an 80-year-old man before their very eyes.
What do the Pats have to give? I would think an offer of the #15 pick in this draft, a first rounder in next year’s draft and one of the two young DB’s on this team J.C. Jackson or Jonathan Jones. After all, with Stephon Gilmore locked up, the Pats secondary is in great shape.
The Pats also have the cap space to make this deal work without having to do too much roster manipulation.
4) Detroit Lions – With QB issues of their own, a deal of guys who want out of town may not be a bad idea. Watson with the great WR crew in Detroit could be extremely dangerous, and defensive coordinators in the NFC North would be quaking about a Watson to Golladay connection.
Surely Matt Stafford alone would not be enough to entice the Texans, but the Lions also own the #7 pick. Add that and maybe a Day 2 draft selection, and Houston would have to be intrigued.
Think about it, they could keep Stafford and have him tutor either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson (whichever one is still there at 7), or they could turn around and move Stafford to New England for the #15 pick and get their QB of the future and maybe even their RB too, with Najee Harris, if they were so inclined.
3) San Francisco 49ers – For all intents and purposes, it appears the Jimmy Garoppolo experiment by the bay is over. Adding a talent like Watson to an offensive mind like Kyle Shanahan could be a dangerous pairing.
The 49ers already have the defense and the ground game, and with Watson this team could very easily find themselves at the top of an extremely competitive NFC West. But do they have the arsenal to give up getting him?
Well, Jimmy G would have to be included, but the 49ers would also have to part with the #12 pick in this year’s draft, a day 2 pick in the 2021 draft and a first rounder in the 2022 draft would probably be enough to get the Texans attention.
Plus, the fact that the Niners reside all the way on the West Coast AND in the NFC would make it all much easier to deal with.
2) Carolina Panthers – Teddy Bridgewater was never supposed to be the man who would lead Carolina back to the promised land. He is a solid QB that is probably best suited to be a back-up. But looking into the long-term future of this team, Teddy was never going to be the future of this team.
Watson however could very well take the Panthers to the next level. Back to a time of a younger Cam Newton. Pairing Watson with hopefully a healthy Christian McCaffrey would make Carolina a very dangerous team.
Especially in a division that may be losing the likes of Drew Brees, and if he wins the Super Bowl, Tom Brady.
The haul the Texans could get would be solid too. Bridgwater would have to be a part of the deal to help with the salary cap, and that’s fine as the Texans may need a gap QB till whomever they draft is ready. But the Panthers could also part with the #8 pick in this draft, a first rounder in 2022, and a 2021 Day 2 pick.
So, who is the team that has, in my opinion, the best shot and the best situation for both Watson and the Texans?
1). Miami Dolphins – I know, it sounds crazy right? After all, the 2019 season was all about Tanking for Tua. But my sources tell me that the bloom is off the rose as far as Tua is concerned in South Beach.
He had to be bailed out by Fitzmagic a few times, and he isn’t as far along as Brian Flores had hoped he would be. If Watson had been on this Dolphins team last year, they would not have missed the playoffs by one game, I can tell you that right now.
The best part about it is the haul they could give the Texans in return for Watson. It is one that any other team would have a hard time matching.
For starters, Tua could head to Houston if the Texans think that he can still grow into the QB the Dolphins and the rest of the NFL thought they were getting. Then add in the #3 pick in this draft (which ironically was the Texans pick to begin with but was traded to Miami in the Larry Tunstill trade last year), and the Texans 2nd round pick, which Miami also owns from that deal.
That is the kind of haul that will allow the Texans to rebuild quickly and get the Dolphins a QB who can lead them to the promised land in a division that is no longer under the thumb of Tom Brady and the Patriots.
Now will any of these trades happen. If you ask the Texans, the answer is no. They say they have no desire to trade Watson, and I cannot blame them. None of the picks or players they could land in return will be guaranteed to be as good as Watson is. But Watson has vowed to hold out if he is not dealt and does not care is he sits out the season.
But at least there is now an idea of the kind of booty the Texans can expect to receive. If they want to make a clean break from Watson and not have this drama drag on while still being a factor in the AFC South, I think that Miami has the best package to offer the Texans.