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BRB GroupThink: The Worth of One Deshaun Watson

What would you need to trade the Texans’ star quarterback?

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Houston Texans Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Deshaun Watson is unhappy. The Texans are a boiling, fetid mess. The vultures are circling. The trade rumors are never going to end. Fine, we’ll acquiesce.

Although Deshaun Watson hasn’t officially requested a trade, I asked the Masthead the following question: Is there a trade package out there you would accept for Watson?

These are our responses:

MATT WESTON:

First and foremost, Deshaun Watson is the entirety of the Houston Texans business operation. He’s the sun at the center of their solar system. He’s the beginning and the end. He’s the third and the fourth. He’s a top five quarterback, entering his age-26 season. He is only going to get better, and he was already one of the best quarterbacks in the league despite playing for a team that fired its head coach, had the worst run game in football, had a terrible offensive line, and traded a future Hall of Fame wide receiver.

Watson chose to sign a contract extension last fall that was probably negotiated by Jack Easterby. Watson is under contract until 2025. There’s a franchise tag to use after that if necessary. Watson has zero leverage. The Texans would be better off paying him to not play football than they would be trading him.

That being said, for the purposes of this brain poisoning, the only package for Watson that makes sense inolves Jacksonville. Getting the best trade package is what matters. Playing Watson twice a year doesn’t. Getting the first and 25th overall picks in the 2021 NFL Draft is a start. Toss in Josh Allen after a lackluster sophomore season. Throw in some more midround picks. Maybe you can get there. Even then, Watson has a no-trade clause, and the Jags may not even want to trade a generational quarterback prospect who they can soak in the Duval culture while paying him a rookie salary for an upset and pouting quarterback regardless of Watson’s talent and performance.

Justin Fields or Sam Darnold and picks isn’t enough. Tua Tagovailoa and picks isn’t enough. A generational quarterback prospect and then some is the only rate that you can even squint at to move a young and elite franchise quarterback. Everything else is bunk.

RIVERS McCOWN:

((Newspaper emoji))

L4BLITZER:

Setting aside that actually trading Watson would officially vault the Texans into the top spot of the idiotic sports franchises in the country, if not the planet, the Texans could and should be asking for the greatest haul of draft picks in the history of the NFL. We are talking at a minimum something akin to when Mike Ditka, in perhaps one of the only trades in NFL history that makes Bill O’Brien’s trade of DeAndre Hopkins look like a reasonable deal, traded the entirety of the Saints’ 1999 draft as well as a 2000 first round pick to Washington for the right to draft Ricky Williams. I think most would say that Deshaun Watson > Ricky Williams. Ergo, the STARTING position for the Texans needs to be at least that type of draft haul.

Is that type of price way too high? Yep, but how often could a team get a franchise quarterback at a relatively young age who is a proven star and could make a team a contender (Texans notwithstanding) the minute he puts on that team’s jersey? If the Texans decide to take this thought experiment and actually make it a reality, they need to go full out, since it is going to be a massive, massive rebuild. Multiple firsts and multiple seconds need to be thrown in, along with an entire draft class, but if you are a team that wants to get Watson, the Texans have to ask for the universe. Regardless of the threat that Watson poses to Jack Easterby, Nick Caserio needs to go to the negotiating table and play some serious, serious hardball. If the Texans don’t at least exceed Washington’s haul from 1999, it is a bust. Oh, and Caserio will need Watson’s new team to take a few of our bad contracts (Whitney Mercilus and Eric Murray) off our hands. The Texans will still have the cap hit, but not as bad as keeping those players around for their lack of effective contributions.

Now, do I expect Watson to be traded? Not yet. However, I can sense a new conspiracy brewing from the Easterby/McNair union. Even if Watson somehow manages to get the Texans to make a hire that makes sense for head coach, Easterby will not long forget how Watson may challenge his primacy within the organization. Expect a number of negative stories about Watson to slowly start making their way into the media, dimming his star ever so slightly. If he should have a bad game or two, perhaps some training regimen leave Watson with key mechanical flaws, and more of those “insider” sources will come out to bash Watson even more. This, in turn, weakens Watson’s bargaining position. Easterby can then work McNair and Caserio to try to then offload Watson as disgruntled, or Watson’s stature and voice within the Texans is severely weakened.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but no more far-fetched than the Texans actually alienating and trading their best player and hope for future glory. Hopefully, this remains a thought exercise/bad dream, and we wake up to a coach and organization that Watson thinks can still work for him and the team can move quickly to recover from the inferno of the 2020 season.

UPROOTED TEXAN:

I want a team’s next two drafts and a first rounder. I don’t mean draft picks. If we’re going to do something as monumentally stupid as to trade the only franchise quarterback we’ve ever known, I want the acquiring team’s entire class of draft picks, rounds one through seven, for the next two years, plus their first round pick for the third year.

Anything short of that and I’m telling potential trade partners—which, again, WE SHOULDN’T EVEN HAVE TO BE IN A POSITION TO ENTERTAIN—to go [kitten] themselves.

Oh, and possibly some financial assistance to hire some professionals to help rid us of this turbulent priest.

And a cookie.

MIKE BULLOCK:

I agree with UT. It would have to be THE blockbuster trade of all time. Houston would have to get AT LEAST three first round picks, plus more assets akin to giving up the player the Texans have spent 17 years trying to find. Even then, Houston would look like a bunch of bozos for trading Deshaun Watson.

If they want to look stupid for trading away star players, the can just re-play the Jadeveon Clowney or DeAndre Hopkins trade reports. Been there, done that, team is worse off for it.

Seeing all these ridiculous trade proposals from fans and the media just make me laugh. People’s assertions that Houston would “have to” take a trade that nets them a single first round pick, a player nowhere near Watson’s caliber, and a second rounder or some such is ridiculous. Even the proposed Tua and several first rounders is a bad deal for the Texans. Tua might end up having a good career, but it would be like the Packers trading Aaron Rodgers for Joe Flacco a decade ago.

Now, if someone wants to talk about trading Patrick Mahomes or Russell Wilson or someone else of that caliber, plus a first rounder and some other compensation, I’d listen to a trade offer. Otherwise, it’s all just noise.

DIEHARD CHRIS:

The eternal caveat - it’s not happening, and I don’t want it to happen NO MATTER WHAT the package is. Deshaun’s no-trade clause makes this especially impossible because teams know they have leverage in that we can only trade Deshaun to a team he wants to be traded to, so you already have a built-in certainty that you’re gonna get fleeced - on top of the fact that no matter what, if you trade Deshaun Watson, you’re getting fleeced in the first place. Double-fleecing!

This is going to sound unreasonable—because IT IS. If I’m trading Deshaun to you, most likely your first round picks are going to be mid-late 20s at best following the initial first rounder. So what I want is your entire draft class for Year One, because (for example, the Jets) their picks are all high; following that first year, with Deshaun, the picks won’t likely won’t be.

So, your entire class this year, your highest two picks the following two years, one front-line player of the Texans’ choosing, AND the team that’s acquiring Deshaun will take Whitney Mercilus, Randall Cobb, and any other untradeable players with horrifically bad contracts as part of the trade.

In other words - this would never ever happen, as this trade never should and won’t. If Nick Caserio wasn’t with the team, I’d be a lot more worried, but I do believe he is now the only adult in the room.

What would be your price to trade Deshaun Watson?