With the NFL trade deadline approaching tomorrow (Tuesday, November 3rd), the rumor mill is swirling with potential trades. From actual concrete evidence to pure speculation, the trade predictions are as rampant as ever.
Your Houston Texans allegedly made it clear to all the league that they were open to trades for any player except Deshaun Watson, J.J. Watt, Laremy Tunsil and Tytus Howard. The concentration of rumors seems to swirl around the wide receiver corps, with Kenny Stills ever present in speculation. Newly minted Texans Randall Cobb and Brandin Cooks are also allegedly in the mix, but the most intriguing talk is roiling around Will Fuller V.
Green Bay has maintained interest in trading for Texans WR Will Fuller over the past few weeks, per @RapSheet— PFF (@PFF) November 1, 2020
Fuller through Wk 7:
78.0 PFF Grade (20th)
14 rec. of 15+ yards (10th) pic.twitter.com/3HYDbbL3ur
Many rumors have no teeth and are more flights of fancy made up by writers trying to get traffic to their posts/articles/tweets/etc. However, where this one varies is the connection between Fuller V and Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, which runs deep. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach at Notre Dame when Fuller V was there torching opposing defenses, contributing 1,094 yards and 15 touchdowns his sophomore year. The Packers supposedly inquired about Fulle’s availability over the summer, post-Nuk-mageddon, so the theory is that Bill O’Brien wasn’t trying to give up Fuller after kicking the best receiver in the league to the curb.
“First of all Will, what a great guy. Always would prepare the right way. Man, does he have a lot juice. He’s been a lot of fun to watch over these last couple years. You can really see him improving every year he gets out on that field. I think he’s a legitimate No. 1 receiver and he definitely has the speed that you’ve got to know where he’s at at all times. There’s been a lot of explosive plays.”
With the trade deadline coming tomorrow, the Packers poised for a Super Bowl run (quite possibly one of the last in the Aaron Rodgers era), the need for a deep threat receiver in their offense, and yesterday’s loss to the 1-6 Minnesota Vikings, it’s not out of bounds to believe the Packers would be willing to pay a higher than warranted price to get Fuller now.
Fuller is playing on his fifth-year option and has not missed a game this season to injury, the main concern about him throughout his career. Fuller already has more touchdowns through seven games than he had in either of his last two seasons and is clearly trusted by quarterback Deshaun Watson.
If he stays healthy and is signed by another team this offseason, Fuller could net the Texans a third-round compensatory draft pick in 2022, so it wouldn’t make sense for the Texans to let him go for less than that. Would a contending team in need of a wide receiver offer more, such as a third-round pick and a fifth-round pick, or perhaps a second-round pick? A package like that could be enough to let Fuller go if the Texans don’t see themselves re-signing him.
With the Texans knowing they can get a late third round compensatory pick for Fuller if they let him walk in the 2021 offseason should mean he’s worth - at bare minimum - a second rounder right now. It’s a stretch to think Green Bay would cough up a first rounder for a speedy wideout who’s about to enter free agency, but the Texans have several late round picks to play with; perhaps they could find a way to package a few of those with Fuller to get the Packers’ 2021 first rounder, which based on their current play will come at the end of the round.
More likely, a straight trade of Fuller for the Packers’ second round pick might require Houston adding a late round pick to sweeten the deal. As of right now (pending the deal with the Dallas Cowboys) the Texans have eight draft picks in the fourth through seventh rounds. A creative negotiator could find a way to make something happen here if LaFluer and the Packers are truly all in on landing Fuller.
With a bevy of wide receivers, two of whom are go-route guys, giving up Fuller wouldn’t be the worst idea, particularly considering his injury history. Moving Kenny Stills to WR2 across from Brandin Cooks still gives Deshaun Watson some elite speed at both sides, with Randall Cobb in the slot.
Houston is going to have to make tough decisions regarding the wide receiver room next year anyways. Stills is a free agent. Cooks has a $12 million cap hit and can be released without taking on any dead money. Cobb is a slot receiver who limits better players around him. If they don’t trade Fuller by tomorrow, Houston will have to decide whether or to let him walk in free agency, sign him to a long-term deal, or franchise tag him for 2021.
LaFleur and the Pack took some flack for not grabbing a receiver early in the wideout heavy 2020 NFL Draft, so this is a chance to right that wrong. Taking a flyer on a rookie wideout in the COVID-19 shortened of season was risky, knowing the steep learning curve going from an NCAA offense to an NFL one; that doesn’t exist with a veteran like Fuller. We can easily make the argument that Fuller is worth a second rounder, if not a late first rounder, to Green Bay right now.
Would you trade Will Fuller for a second round pick?