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Russell Wilson Trade Sets Market, Eliminates Potential Deshaun Watson Trade Partner

An analysis of the recent Russell Wilson trade.

Houston Texans v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Rob Leiter via Getty Images

The league year did not need to start for teams to begin making big-time moves. The Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks pulled off a monstrous trade that immediately elevates the Broncos to win-now mode and puts the Seahawks into an immediate rebuilding phase. To summarize the news from the man who broke it himself:

That’s a third-tier starting quarterback, a starting tight end and former first-round pick, and a strong, rotational, veteran defensive end... and that’s not even INCLUDING two firsts, two seconds, and a fifth round pick. To top it all off, Seattle saved over $11 million in cap space from the trade off of Wilson’s contract. Let’s also not forget Wilson had statistically the worst season of his career this past season.

This is larger than a blockbuster deal. This is a league-altering domino and pace-setter for this offseason. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers demonstrated what an elite veteran quarterback can do to a talented roster two years ago, and the Broncos showed it even before them when they signed Peyton Manning. The Los Angeles Rams validated the value of the quarterback position in 2021 when they surrounded Matthew Stafford with talent. Now the Broncos are going to show you what it looks like when all of the talent is on their rookie contract. Teams are going all in faster than a time trial at a poker tournament.

For the Texans, the Russell Wilson trade should be the most complete measuring stick they’ve seen for a Deshaun Watson trade package. There hasn’t been a trade in the 21st century at the quarterback position of this magnitude. Especially considering their past trade history in the Bill O’Brien era, the Texans did not have much to base their trade market off of for embattled star quarterback. Rumors continue that Nick Caserio wants three firsts and two seconds in a trade for Watson, but even that bounty seems meager compared to the Seahawks’ haul. Even more incentivizing for potential suitors, Watson is entering the prime of his career. Watson’s value should be GREATER than Wilson’s.

In my heart of hearts, I believe this was the trade package Denver wanted to offer for Watson. Denver’s leadership or ownership or whoever the hell runs that organization right now had this nice offer put together with a delivery address in Houston, but got too impatient and uneasy. Instead, the Broncos cut their losses and sent the goods north to Seattle.

Thus, this trade knocks out one of the few potential landing spots for Watson. Houston is looking for a team with talent, no future QB, ready to win now, and a ton of draft capital. There are far fewer teams that fit that description than you think.

The list goes as such:

Indianapolis would never. The Dolphins have been adamant against it. Cleveland’s offense is in decline. New Orleans’ talented offense is in tatters. The Eagles like Jalen Hurts more than teams think.

That leaves us with three teams: Panthers, Vikings, and Steelers. In my opinion, it’s either the Vikings or Steelers. Watson in an offense with either team in good but no impossible divisions would be enticing. Minnesota picsk 12th and the Steelers pick 17th. Both teams have their complete set of first and seconds for the next three years. Both teams have quarterbacks they can part with, offensive and defensive linemen to trade, and fan bases ready for a new era. Even so, none of these teams are as prepared as Denver.

If the Texans trade Watson, they’ll receive the largest trade bounty in franchise history for the best player in franchise history. The only two questions are how much and who. Neither answer is very certain at the moment, but both could be resolved in the coming days or weeks.