Deshaun Watson formally requested a trade from the Houston Texans after weeks of speculation about his future, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The 25-year-old quarterback is coming off his strongest season yet statistically playing behind an offensive line that gave up 50 sacks, lacking a No. 1 wide receiver, and ongoing problems with the front office about the direction of the franchise.
This is shaping up to be an unprecedented trade. One of the league’s best quarterbacks, just beginning the prime of his career and under contract until 2025, is available to be had on the open market. It will likely be the biggest trade since the the Saints traded their entire 1999 draft, as well as their first and second round picks in 2000 to select Ricky Williams.
Trading for Watson is something a lot of teams will be interested in, but many might be frozen out. Watson’s contract has a no trade clause, meaning he can choose which team he’d be interested in playing for. That said, almost any situation is better than Houston at this point — which makes the prospect easier. So let’s dive in and see who could actually put a package together for the QB.
The package: QB Tua Tagovailoa, 2021 1st round pick (3rd overall), 2021 1st round pick (18th overall), 2021 2nd round pick (50th overall).
This could be the best possible package for both teams. Houston gets immediate help from the trade, recouping the No. 3 pick (which they traded to Miami), as well as landing a high-upside quarterback.
Miami, on the other hand, proved this season the team is a lot closer to competing than people gave them credit for. The young team doesn’t have a vast number of glaring needs, so getting a better passer could be the difference here. In addition, giving assets they’ve already acquired means the Dolphins wont need to sell the farm to get Watson.
It’s unclear if Miami is a destination that would be acceptable, but this could be an interesting scenario.
2021 1st round pick (2nd overall), 2021 2nd round pick (34th overall), 2022 1st round pick, 2023 1st round pick.
I know there’s been trade speculation from fans that the Jets could include Sam Darnold in a deal here, but I think if Houston parts ways with Watson they’ll want more future assets, not a gamble on a quarterback who hasn’t shown a lot so far.
The No. 2 overall pick would give Houston their pick of quarterbacks not named Trevor Lawrence. It would also be a future bet against the Jets, believing the outstanding No. 1 picks would be considerably higher than any other team.
The big question here is whether the Jets would be a location acceptable to Watson. It’s a big market, with plenty of earning potential — but in terms of winning that’s more iffy. There’s a lot of work to be done on the roster, and losing a future of bevy picks could only make that worse. However, the Jets now have Robert Salah, a talented coach who could turn things around. It’s just going to be trickier than usual.
2021 1st round pick (15th overall), 2021 second round pick (47th overall), 2022 1st round pick, 2022 2nd round pick, 2023 1st round pick.
I’m adding another second to essentially what’s the Jets offer to account for New England picking later. This could be a package the Texans would be interested in, but there are a few reasons why this might not work.
Firstly, it’s an exceedingly un-Bill Belichick like move to give away assets. This is a team that believes in its process, doesn’t take huge risks, and would rather find gems in the draft than trade for a diamond.
There’s no doubt that Watson would make the Patriots better, and that he would thrive in New England — but it just might not work. Belichick’s team is in the middle of retooling, don’t have a ton of desirable assets, and that could be enough to kill the idea.
QB Matt Ryan, 2021 1st round pick (4th overall), 2021 second round pick (36th overall), 2022 1st round pick, 2022 second round pick.
The one thing the Texans lack is strong veteran leadership at quarterback, should they trade Watson — and Josh McCown jumps into coach, as some expect. Getting the No. 4 pick would almost certainly allow Houston to get their QB of the future, while taking the pressure off a rookie to play immediately and regain some fan confidence with Ryan at the helm.
The Falcons seem ready to move on and retool. There’s not a lot this team needs, and while Ryan is far from the biggest issue, getting Watson would essentially revamp the team immediately and prepare them for the future, without needing to gamble on the draft.
QB Teddy Bridgewater, 2021 1st round pick (8th overall), 2021 second round pick (40th overall), 2022 1st round pick, 2022 second round pick, 2023 1st round pick.
In this scenario the Panthers have to give up A LOT, and it’s basically because they’re over a barrel. Carolina’s cap situation isn’t horrific, but they don’t have the space right now to make a deal. Similar to Ryan, Bridgewater would go to Houston — but he has less immediate value, and he’s being overpaid commensurate to his talent.
The wild card in a potential Panthers trade is Christian McCaffery. The running back, who some believed was the MVP in 2019, was injured for much of 2020 and has a huge new contract. However, he’s an elite player the Texans could be interested in adding to the offense and take the pressure off.
I don’t reasonably see this as a possibility, and feel Carolina would love Watson, but perhaps not for the price they’d need to pay.
Other notable mentions
These are all teams who should be mentioned in any possible Watson trade scenario, but all suffer from the problem of being too good. It’s not that they couldn’t trade for Watson, it’s more that I don’t think Houston would be interested in getting back picks that would likely be in the 20s because of collective success.
When you have a team in the playoffs, or knocking on the door, there’s a risk for a team like Houston that Watson would be the missing piece, pushing their future compensation even lower. Unlike Miami these teams don’t have a Top 10 pick this year, or a young valuable asset to sweeten the deal — which is why I see them as non-starters in the conversation right now.