The Texans haven’t had a good year to make franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson happy, despite giving him a 4-year, $ 156 million contract extension just before the 2021 season. It started last March when they traded their catcher. open Deandre Hopkins to Arizona. And it may end with Houston trading Watson himself.
The Texans mollified Watson a bit by eliminating now-former offensive-minded general manager / coach Bill O’Brien for the season, resulting in the best statistical performance of his career. But they’ve reportedly bothered him the most by failing to commit to diversity in their hiring process for a new GM and coach.
Also worth noting: A source said this week that after Houston traded Pro Bowl wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins last offseason, Deshaun Watson’s anger level was “a 2 … this time, it’s a 10 ” https://t.co/CsqZYbe3OK
– Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 10, 2021
The Texans named Nick Caserio, another former Patriot, their former director of player personnel, as general manager earlier in the week. They also reportedly refused to include Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in their search for a coach. Now the big question is whether Caserio moves Watson after making concessions on his no-trade clause. And if it does, what teams are capable of doing it?
MORE: Dolphins Tua Tagovailoa emerges as potential target for Texans QB
Here we take a look at the most reasonable accommodations, including a destination that was already rumored:
Deshaun Watson’s trade fits
1. New England Patriots
Any team that is not established as a quarterback and has cap space should consider acquiring Watson. He just led the NFL in passing yards (4,823 yards) and yards per attempt (8.9). He also posted an elite passer rating of 112.4, rushed for 444 more yards and produced 36 total touchdowns.
Caserio came from working with Bill Belichick. The Patriots will not bring back Cam Newton. For now, they are projected to have nearly $ 60 million available under the cap, the third-highest total in the league. But would New England be willing to part with much more than its 2020 first round (No. 15 overall) to get there? If they think Watson is good enough to put them back in contention for the AFC title with Belichick and Josh McDaniels, the answer should be yes.
Watson turns 26 in September and is entering his prime. After Patrick Mahomes, he’s arguably the second best young quarterback in the AFC. He is an established player around whom you can build a championship team. It’s hard to think of sacrificing multiple first-round players for one player, but players like Watson are rarely available on the open market.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Dolphins and Texans were busy business partners when O’Brien was around, especially in regards to Houston’s acquisition of Pro Bowl left tackle Laremy Tunsil. Caserio and Miami GM Chris Grier come from the Patriots tree.
According to a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, Watson may be more open to a trade with the Dolphins, which would imply the Texans getting 2020 first-round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and other significant compensation. This follows the thought that the Dolphins may not be completely sold out in Tagovailoa as their franchise answer.
Tagovailoa may end up being special in time, but Watson is already a sure thing. The Dolphins finished 10-6 in Year 2 under Flores, simply missing the playoffs, and they have a bright future ahead of them with plenty of cap room. They’re also sitting in two first-round games, No. 3 overall (via the Tunsil trade) and No. 18. They are better positioned to give the Texans a high enough compensation.
3. San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers don’t have much cap room right now, about $ 23 million, but if they go after Watson, it would be because they are pulling out of Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract. They can do this by consuming just $ 2.8 million in dead money with additional relief from the $ 24.1 million cap.
San Francisco has the No. 12 overall pick and can get aggressive on general manager John Lynch. He took a look at quarterbacks in the 2017 draft, but ultimately selected defensive end Solomon Thomas over Watson and others before trading for Garoppolo in October of that year.
Watson would thrive in any offensive system, but Kyle Shanahan has an excellent one that would maximize his dynamic skill set with a strong traditional running game and established playmakers in Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle. The 49ers, like the Patriots, shouldn’t shy away from giving up a lot to get Watson.
4. Washington football team
Now we are getting into some wild cards. WFT started four quarterbacks in the first season under Ron Rivera and Scott Turner. Between Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins (now defunct), and Taylor Heinicke, there was no definitive long-term solution. Washington has about $ 42 million in capitalization space, which is projected to be the fifth-highest total.
Turner is also a great offensive coordinator, able to adapt well to Watson’s skill set. Washington has key playmakers for Watson in running back Antonio Gibson, wide receiver Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas before adding more. The challenge would be compensation: Washington, the NFC East champion but wild-card underdog, has the No. 19 overall pick as his best asset.
MORE: Watson Could Apply For Trade After Hiring Nick Caserio
5. New York Jets
If Watson ends up in the AFC East, the Patriots and Dolphins are much better bets. But the Jets know they will lose Trevor Lawrence in the draft, so maybe they can take advantage of Clemson’s elite NFL quarterback in this way. The Jets are expecting about $ 70 million in cap space, so paying Watson is not a problem. They can also give the Texans the No. 2 overall pick as part of compensation, which would allow the Texans to draft a high-potential replacement, like Ohio State’s Justin Fields.
The Jets would have to offer the proper training situation and continue to build their supporting cast, but that would also be the case in catering to Fields. Joe Douglas should at least call Caserio.
6. Indianapolis Colts
The Colts do not have Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett under contract for 2021 after being eliminated by the Bills in the wild-card playoffs. They are there with the Patriots in the salary space, ahead of Washington.
The obstacles to a Watson trade start with the fact that Indianapolis is the AFC’s southern division rival of the Texans. Finish without having a first-round pick in the top 20. They have a better chance against Watson than the Capped Bears, but it’s long. Just keep in mind that the Eagles and Washington once executed an intra-division quarterback trade involving Donovan McNabb.
7. Denver Broncos
The Broncos would love to get into this mix with John Elway, assuming they’re not fully sold out at Drew Lock yet. They have the appeal of the No. 9 overall pick, but they also have less than $ 20 million available under the cap.
Denver would need to pay off a large amount of veteran’s salary (which it can) and carry a bundle along with that first round to get Watson. That seems like a real effort to put together, and teams, above all, offer Watson more comfortable situations.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.