Every year, right before the trade deadline, the rumor mill cranks out hundreds of potential trades between NFL franchises. Some are totally far-fetched, some based in concrete reality, but more often than not, most never come to fruition.
This year, with the 1-6 record, the firing of head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien, and the total mess O’Brien left the next GM in terms of a lack of draft capital, smart contracts, and cap space, making up rumors about potential Texans trades is like shooting fish in a barrel. Wideout Kenny Stills has been mentioned repeatedly as someone who would get traded, but actual evidence to back up this rumor has yet to surface. Now, Aaron Wilson, Baltimore-turned-Houston sportswriter, says fellow wide receivers Will Fuller V and Randall Cobb are rumored trade targets as well.
NFL teams have made several inquiries regarding Texans' wide receivers, including calls about Will Fuller and Randall Cobb, according to league sources. Draft pick compensation is not at a level where any deals are regarded as likely. Status quo for now— Aaron Wilson (@AaronWilson_NFL) October 28, 2020
Aaron Reiss of the Athletic expanded on Wilson’s negative view of the rumor, citing a league source.
The Packers are among the teams to inquire about #Texans WR Will Fuller, according to a league source, but no deal imminent. Houston isn’t interested in a fire sale, won’t trade just to trade.— Aaron Reiss (@aaronjreiss) October 28, 2020
However, sometimes where there’s smoke, there’s fire. Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur used to coach Fuller in college and knows just what a healthy Will brings to the table.
Here's what #Packers head coach Matt LaFleur told me about #Texans WR Will Fuller last week:— Brandon Kyle Scott (@brandonkscott) October 28, 2020
“I think he’s a legitimate No. 1 receiver and he definitely has the speed that you’ve got to know where he is at all times ...I’m a big Will Fuller fan.” https://t.co/iowYqCmp60
If the Packers are convinced Fuller is a true WR1 in a pass happy league, a team with an aging future Hall of Famer in Aaron Rodgers should give up a second round (or better?) draft pick to put Fuller at the other end of a Rodgers deep pass. The Packers are in the hunt for a Super Bowl this season, and they won’t have too many more chances before Rodgers rides off into the sunset to join Bart Starr and Brett Favre in the Packers QB Ring of Honor.
The other interesting wrinkle to all this comes in the form of recent history. With the sheer volume of ridiculously bad trades Bill O’Brien pulled during his time in the Texans driver’s seat, the other 31 NFL franchises most likely still smell blood in the water. They should be trying to trade Houston a handful of magic beans for starter quality players. With Houston reverting to its flat Hydra management system, with Jack Easterby in the GM chair, odds are that owner Cal McNair has had enough of seeing his picture next to the definition of “NFL Owners who got pantsed in a trade.”
Another angle to consider is making sure to set the Texans up in the most attractive posture possible for an incoming general manager and head coach. Now, a lot can be said for wanting or not wanting the Texans GM gig, but at the end of the day, there are only 32 of these jobs on earth. If you’re a sports executive, having one is a big deal, no matter how steamy the mess the previous guy dumped in the chair is. While the rumors swirl, giving up any player who is a roster positive right now, such as Will Fuller V or Randall Cobb, might or might not make a big difference when it comes to hiring Houston’s next general manager.
What would you do? Is anyone besides Deshaun Watson safe? Or are there some go-to players you wouldn’t trade unless the other team brings their version of a Bill O’Brien deal to the table? Surely there’s a GM out there who is just as bad at making trades as O’Brien was. The Texans deserve some of that right about now.