Houston Texans shocked the NFL landscape at the beginning of 2020 by essentially swapping a large All-Pro receiver at the top for a mistreated 28-year-old who comes back, leaving many wondering how in the world of coach Bill O ‘A Brien was allowed to remain the general manager of the team – and if O’Brien cared entirely about building around the quarterback of star Deshaun Watson.
It is now evident that Watson himself is not immune to questions. The 24-year-old callerMonday about a dark future and “iconic duets” torn to pieces, then sent speculations on hyper-drive, appreciating another user’s tweet about deserving “better” – a not so subtly tweet with a photo of the New England Patriots coach Belichick, who just needs a new quarterback now that Tom Brady has packed his bags for Florida.
Watson continued to, as he continues – inadvertently or not – to fuel rising rumors about his future in Houston.
With all this in mind, we thought it appropriate to explore the possibility – far-fetched or not – that Watson would become the last big name to be exported from Houston:
Is Deshaun Watson likely to trade?
Absolutely not. Let’s get it off first. No matter how bizarre some of O’Brien’s decisions have been, this is the QB we’re talking about – and a young Pro Bowl, former first-round selector. Watson has also been under team control for at least two more years, assuming Texans exercise his fifth year option for 2021. A future franchise brand could keep him stuck for even longer. Athletes who embrace commercial speculation are also quite common. Heck, as we speak, Yannick Ngakoue won’t stop playing with Philadelphia Eagles fans on social media, but all indications are that the Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t even close to treating him.
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So why should Texans do it?
Counter-question: Have you seen how Texans work? We can’t really overstate how absurd it was for O’Brien to download DeAndre Hopkins, even if it meant saving money along the way. Simply, don’t go out of your way to remove a 27-year-old Pro Bowl widescreen from your lineup. Paying David Johnson and Randall Cobb for multiple seasons as “replacement” offensive weapons sounds more like a tank strategy than anything else. (And that doesn’t say anything about the 2019 Texans’ polarizing moves, like swapping a mid-round choice for Duke Johnson or accepting one for Jadeveon Clowney.) O O’Brien is legitimately in the lead, he’s deliberately controlling a working tank at Jon’s Gruden before Las Vegas, or both. We may call an Deshaun Watson trade unlikely, but how can we rule it out entirely at this point?
Why should patriots do it?
This goes without saying. New England not only desperately needs some QB juice now that Brady has closed the door in a Patriots 20-year career, and not only the Pats apparently aren’t in love with any of the current veteran options, but they also have a direct line to the Texans’ GM office thanks to O’Brien’s story with Belichick. New England has a passion for acquiring ex-division rivals and would have no trouble reconnecting with their old flames if it meant getting their hands on one of the best young QBs in the game. It’s not that the two sides haven’t spoken recently, either; they reportedly just finished.
How much would it cost to patriots?
This is the most complicated part of all, because a.) Watson is the young, proven, quality QB type of franchise that simply isn’t eliminated, and b.) Texans don’t work like a normal front office.
You would think Houston would require a huge load of choices, as Texans only have two selections in the first three rounds of this year. But as we’ve seen several times, they too (or at least O’Brien) don’t seem to have a clear understanding that they are rebuilding themselves or firing for immediate success. Acquiring a young leftist outfit in Laremy Tunsil and swapping via Clowney smells like a long-term move. Giving up on choices and players for Duke Johnson and Carlos Hyde and David Johnson, meanwhile, smells like … well, trash, but … trying to plug the holes immediately. Who is there to say what they are doing?
However, if you’re talking about a QB franchise, you’re probably talking at least more early rounders in return.
The biggest obstacle for New England may not even be commercial compensation, but rather the inevitable future contract of Watson. When asked about the long-term value of the Texan QB, an NFL source assured CBS Sports that Watson is more than a $ 100 million investment: “If Patrick Mahomes gets $ 250 million with a $ 150 million guarantee,” said the source, “Watson gets $ 200 million with $ 130 million guaranteed,” which means that the Pats could ultimately have an average annual salary of between $ 40 and $ 50 million.
Yet even this is not impossible to reconcile. The Pats are against the wage ceiling in 2020, but with the certainty of keeping Brady under a market agreement for two decades, they could make it work. In 2021, for example, they are expected to be among the top 10 teams in terms of player space. (And it could be better. For example, simply allowing Mohamed Sanu (32), Dont’a Hightower (31) and Jason McCourty (34) to get out of the books will save more than $ 20 million. The following year, they could allow to Julian Edelman (who will be 36 years old) and Devin McCourty (35) to leave and save nearly another $ 20 million.) It is also obvious that Watson could also give New England a slight discount knowing that he would be able to escape the lair of O’Brien to play for a proven winner.
“Bill Belichick is shrewd, so an extension of Watson would be likely,” says Joel Corry, a former CBS Sports employee, former agent and contract expert. “(But) New England is not in the habit of paying the maximum dollar, so reset the QB market as Watson would presumably want (well north of Russell Wilson’s $ 35 million a year and more than $ 110 million Jared Goff dollars in total guarantees) would be another obstacle. The only time Tom Brady signed a contract that made him the highest paid player in the league was with his 2010 extension to $ 18 million a year Such a move is much easier said than done. “
That said, here’s a totally speculative but not entirely unreasonable suggestion for commercial terms:
Patriots Receive: QB Deshaun Watson, pick in the sixth round of 2021
Texans receive: 2020 first round pick, 2021 first round pick, 2021 third round pick, 2021 fourth round pick, 2022 second round pick, OG Joe Thuney
Houston would have recovered both the first-round choices exchanged from 2020-2021, and the three second-day choices for 2021-2022, when they would have probably targeted the next QB of the future. Thuney, meanwhile, would strengthen the interior of O’Brien’s RB base line, and his 2020 franchise tag would ensure that Houston has control over his future. Patriots, on the other hand, would get a QB young enough to be a draft perspective for the likely cost of going up to take one of the best prospects this year.
“Commercial compensation should be much more than that of Khalil Mack, Jalen Ramsey and Laremy Tunsil because Deshaun Watson is a quarterback,” says Corry. “The Texans they should he wants a minimum of three fairly early (and probably more) first-round picks, but maximizing commercial value has not proven to be Bill O’Brien’s strong suit. “
What would Texans do at QB?
This goes well beyond the hypothetical lane, but in the event that O’Brien actually takes care of Watson, on his own initiative or after the QB suggestions / requests for a move elsewhere, he would have any number of paths to take in what it would presumably be a complete reconstruction. O’Brien has often preferred more traditional pocket passers-by over the years, so veterans like Andy Dalton or Joe Flacco may be imaginable on the radar as appetizers. Ditto for current backup A.J. McCarron. So in 2020 or 2021, he could have planted his flag on a new face of the franchise through the draft.
This means, of course, assuming O’Brien has been directing the show since then. You can be the judge that it’s likely considering we’re exploring the whole scenario in the first place.