Unless a team flies in with an incredible offer, Deshaun Watson isn’t going anywhere this season. It’s been said before, but it needs to be said again: The Texans need to know what the draft capital they receive in a Watson trade will be worth before they make that trade. Middle or late round picks isn’t going to cut it. Deshaun Watson is a top five quarterback. His play alone can lift a team from the dredges to the NFL Playoffs and, likely, from the playoffs to a Super Bowl caliber team.
The sexual assault allegations surrounding him rotted his trade request. Because of how long the legal process is—Watson probably won’t head to trial until sometime next year if he even does—and the fact that the NFL shares the evidence they receive with the player, a full investigation that could punish Watson won’t happen until after litigation is resolved. We don’t really know what’s going on. We have no idea what’s going to happen. That being said, it’s more than likely if a Watson suspension happens, it won’t happen for another season or two.
The situation complicates a already complicated situation, but by no means does it stall all trade talks until after the legal process plays out. Watson being traded after this season and before the 2022 NFL Draft is the most likely outcome of this saga.
The suitors for a Watson trade have been the same for months: Miami, Carolina, Denver, and Philadelphia.
Tua Tagovailoa is still a relative unknown, and the Dolphins have the defense and skill players to compete now. Watson doesn’t need a great offensive line to be successful; immediately, he makes Miami a Super Bowl contender. They don’t have an extra first round pick this season, but they’ll have an extra one in 2023. They’ll be drafting where the San Francisco 49ers end up for the next two seasons after they traded up for Jaylen Waddle.
Carolina has an exorbitant amount of young defensive talent. Derrick Brown, Jeremy Chinn, Yetur Gros-Matos, Bravion Roy, Jermaine Carter, Jaycee Horn, Daviyon Nixon, and Brian Burns are all on their first contract. Their offensive situation is similar to Miami’s. Sam Darnold has only gotten worse since his rookie year and is playing behind another terrible offensive line, but he has an incredible skill position group to work with. Carolina could package together defensive talent along with picks to make an offer that would entice Houston. With a new owner who wants a winning team and wants it now, a shoddy Darnold season could push the Panthers into making a trade they didn’t want to previously make.
The Broncos have been in quarterback hell since Peyton Manning was dragged across the Super Bowl finish line by an all-time great pass defense. Paxton Lynch, Trevor Siemian, Case Keenum, Brock Osweiler, Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, Jeff Driskel, Brett Rypien, Kendall Hilton, and now Teddy Bridgewater have all been Denver’s answer to QB since Manning retired. They have a nice power running attack, tons of skill position talent, and a top five pass defense. They have young players in Bradley Chubb, Patrick Surtain II, Dalton Risner, Jerry Jeudy, Tim Patrick, K.J. Hamler, and Noah Fant. They have their draft picks. They were rumored to be part of Aaron Rodgers trade talks right before the 2021 NFL Draft. Bridgewater is fine. He’s mediocre. He’s a pretty good starting quarterback, but he isn’t a dynamic top five quarterback who can lead a top five offense.
Philadelphia traded Carson Wentz to the Colts last offseason. If Wentz plays 75% of his snaps, or 70% of his snaps and Indianapolis makes the playoffs, the Eagles will receive a 2022 first round pick. If these qualifiers aren’t met, they will receive a second round selection. Jalen Hurts had a great game against Atlanta in Week One. Philly’s strengths are their defensive and offensive line, but they are elderly. The young skill talent is there, but no one has really produced yet. General manager Howie Roseman isn’t afraid to make trades. Hurts, two first round picks, and whoever else could lead to a Watson trade if Hurts doesn’t prove himself to be a starting caliber quarterback this season.
These teams all share a common string. Their team is stuck, in spite of their overall talent level, because of the quarterback position. A window opens with a Watson trade, making one of them a potential Super Bowl contender—aside from Philadelphia—and at a minimum, a perennial playoff contender.
The team that no one is talking about that should be discussed is the New York Giants.
It was a typical Giants loss last Sunday. The interior of their defensive line stopped the run and was their entire source of pass rush. Teddy Bridgewater slipped around the pocket and consistently found holes in the zone coverage. The second level was consistently blocked well by the Broncos’ offensive line. Daniel Jones was inaccurate, completed his only throw over 20 yards and fumbling yet again on another scramble. Von Miller made Jones’ life hell as he liquefied Nate Solder play after play, leading to Solder’s benching. Jones, unlike other quarterbacks, needs to have a great offensive line to succeed. New York’s right side was leaky. That was enough to result in a measly 13 points in a 14 point loss to Denver .
Jones could maybe be a passable starting quarterback if the Giants had a great run game that he could throw deep play action passes off of. Saquon Barkley still isn’t Saquon, and may never be Saquon again. Barkley was timid, searching, instead of hitting the hole; he was consistently brought down by the first tackler. Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett has never schemed a successful deep passing offense. There’s the occasional shot downfield, but it isn’t a staple of his offense. There are numerous prerequisites that have to be met for Jones to run a competent offense in the NFL. In his third NFL season, these still haven’t been met.
After three straight losing seasons and a combined record of 18-49, another losing season should be the end of the David Gettleman era or, at a minimum, the end of the Daniel Jones era.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, Trevor Lawrence, Trey Lance, and Zach Wilson were selected one, two, three overall. After a run on skill players, cornerbacks, and an all-time offensive line prospect, Justin Fields was still there. Despite Andy Dalton being QB1 in Chicago, the Bears had to have Fields. The Giants received a fourth round selection in 2021 and a first round selection in 2022 for the move down to 20th, where New York selected wide receiver Kadarius Toney.
The Bears were lost in their loss to the Los Angeles Rams. Cover Six was plucked apart by two deep shots. They refused to attempt a pass over fifteen yards. Matt Nagy’s cute and quirky pre-Patrick Mahomes Kansas City offense is stale and dry. Chicago’s top ten defense is aging as well. With the issues the Bears and the Giants have, New York could find themselves with two top ten picks at the conclusion of the 2021 season.
With their problems, their current track record, their quarterback wasteland, and possible leadership changes, the Giants could, and should, be in on a Watson trade after another losing season. For the Texans, two top ten picks, including a potential top ten pick of their own, along with other sweeteners, should be enough to move Watson to the NFC. Miami, Carolina, and Denver can’t top that unless they offer up their known young talent. Only Philadelphia could top what the Giants could offer if the Eagles and Colts both have terrible seasons where Wentz plays a lot. Chicago and New York are expected to be worse than Philly and Indy.
Despite a first week skinning of the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Texans have talent issues throughout the roster. At the end of the season, Week One will be an aberration, not the norm. This season is all about finding out what the Texans have in young talent, changing the culture, and maximizing what they can get for Deshaun Watson. Rebuilds in the NFL can be quick. If Nick Caserio nails the Watson trade, the QB’s relocation will springboard the creation of the next good Texans team.
Whether it’s Carolina, Denver, or Miami doesn’t matter. What matters is getting the most out of a former top five franchise quarterback. The Giants, with the assets they have and the terrible season both they and the Chicago Bears may have should end up another ;legitimate potential Watson landing spot once the season comes to an end.