Undrafted – The Network

Houston, do we have a problem?

Everything is bigger in Texas and since the latest news seems to be surrounding DeShaun Watson and a potential trade out of Houston, I figured I best explore this. First things first, Watson is a great Quarterback, he has shown a lot of promise so far in his career. He is unlikely to struggle to find someone who wants to take a chance on his on-field play. The roadblocks he may run into in leaving Houston though are his contract and the perception people have of him.

Image Credit – Pro Football Network

Now straight away I want to address the perception of Watson, many people seem to think he has a bit of an attitude problem, especially when they are losing. He does, and he absolutely should. If my Quarterback is not outraged when my team go 4-12, I want a new Quarterback. His detractors say this is diva behaviour and immaturity when he is seen talking about the inner workings of the organisation. This is a man who does not want to lose a single game and based on his numbers this season, he has the talent to not settle for any less.

Now the real sticking point of any potential move, he has a contract that guarantees him 73 million dollars. If he were to be traded in the offseason, this contract would be a huge sticking point. The Texans mortgaged their future in order to trade for a franchise Left Tackle in Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills a Wide Receiver. They gave up their 2020 first round pick and their 2021 First and second round pick. This was supposed to be the catalyst to take them to the next level, their reward, a 4-12 season.

Image Credit – InsideHook

The Houston Texans feel like a team on the cusp of a rebuild, firing Head Coach and General Manager Bill O’Brien at the start of the season after a 0-4 start. A new Head Coach and a new General Manager will be looking for a fresh start and a return to winning ways, will Watson be there to facilitate that.

Change is coming in Texas

DeShaun is becoming more public with his dissatisfaction in relation to the hiring process of both the Head Coach and the General Manager, which cannot bode well for their working relationship. Add that to CEO Cal McNair coming out and telling the media how he has been trying to call Watson to talk about this process and you have a recipe for disaster.

Image Credit – Change.org

It already feels like this relationship is broken, and outside of promising to draft everything from a list made by DeShaun Watson himself, this might be the signal it is time to move on. Losing Watson for anything but a First-Round pick or an alternative Quarterback would be madness, therefore that has been considered for this list. Therefore, without further ado, lets have a look where Watson may end up if this blockbuster trade goes through.

Miami Dolphins

Miami has something that could be considered the Houston Texans property, pick number 3 of the 2021 NFL draft. Is Tua Tagovailoa the answer in South Beach? This writer and Dolphins fan thinks he might be, but he absolutely needs more time. Problem is the NFL does not do well with players needing time, especially on 10-6 teams, even if the record some say flattered the Dolphins.

Image Credit – Sports Illustrated

If he is the answer, this pick is a complete non-starter, however following the 2020 season, if doubts are creeping in, the Dolphins have a real opportunity to act. Brian Flores has already shown he is not scared to make the difficult decisions, such as starting Tua over Fitzpatrick following 2 wins, or pulling Tua from the lineup if he is ineffective. If he is not sure, he has more than enough collateral to be able to move on from Tua without throwing away the future.

Watson was seen working out in a Dan Marino t-shirt, this surely means nothing, Dan Marino is one of the more popular players to play in the National Football League. He is however a career Dolphins player; a fellow Quarterback and he works for the organisation. Is this a subtle come get me plea if it is it has already got the attention of Marino when the picture was posted on social media.

Image Credit – NBC Sports

The question is Tua Tagovailoa, if the Dolphins want more time to assess him, then this will not happen. If they have made up their mind, Watson is available, and with the 3rd overall pick, the Dolphins can definitely get him. They can likely move on from Tua, trade the Texans the pick they originally owned and get a Quarterback who is already a star. Both teams in this situation would win, with the Texans potentially getting a future star and a first-round pick for a disgruntled player.

Will it happen? It is very unlikely, as Tua has the potential to be an incredible NFL Quarterback and the Dolphins would not have used the 5th overall pick in 2020 if they did not think so.

Atlanta Falcons

Could a return home be on the cards for Watson? The man who hails from Gainesville, Georgia might look to make the 49-minute drive to his new home with the Atlanta Falcons. The idea of a return to familiar scenery always has a special pull and I am sure Watson is just the same. Returning home to Georgia for a fresh start may be something that would do the Quarterback good in the next stage of his career.

Image Credit – Sportcasting

What makes this such an attractive prospect for the Falcons organisation is the idea of that easy transition. Matt Ryan has been excellent for the Atlanta Falcons, helping to make the franchise competitive, however he is slowing down and at 35 years old, cannot have long left at the highest level. If Ryan is thinking about retiring soon, the Falcons will know they need to act fast to find his replacement.

The Falcons are on a 3-season losing streak, following a Superbowl trip in 2016, they managed to make the playoffs the next year, however they finished 3rd in their division. Following that however they had back-to-back 7-9 seasons and then in 2020 went 4-12, matching the record of the Texans. This team is beginning a rebuilding process, with a new coach, following the dismissal of Dan Quinn after 5 straight losses to start the season. Watson would then be swapping one rebuild for another, but crucially he would be getting a fresh start.

Image Credit – Niners Nation

The key to this trade would be the faith in and the longevity of Matt Ryan. After 3 straight losing seasons how much does the 35-year-old Quarterback have left to give to the sport. If he believes he is still primed to compete at the highest level, he will stay, however if he is in any doubts, it might be time for him to retire. The new Head Coach may want to take the position in a new direction too, but Matt Ryan is still too good to be a backup.

Will it happen? Another difficult one, as the Falcons have their starter. It becomes more likely if Ryan retires, but if Matty Ice stays, this one is a long shot.

New Orleans Saints

This one would be completely out of the question, if not for one thing, rumour is a certain Quarterback is retiring. Coming to the end of the 2020 season, rumours were circulating all over that Drew Brees is retiring. Rumour has it the 41-year-old is done, and after 19 seasons, we do not blame him. If this happens, there will be a massive hole and New Orleans have no one in house to fill that.

Image Credit – FantasyLabs

Taysom Hill got his opportunity this year to prove himself with Brees having to spend time on the sideline due to injury and he was just okay. The other Quarterback on their staff is Jameis Winston, but after being passed up for Hill, who at the time was registered as a Tight End tells you all you need to know about the confidence in him. If the current NFL career leader does retire, the Saints will be looking for his long-term replacement.

DeShaun Watson would make sense here, he is young enough to be a long-term replacement yet experienced enough to understand the league and how it works. Sean Payton runs a notoriously complicated offense, but if Brees does retire, Watson would enter the building as the starter and would know he needed to learn quick. He is a dedicated player and winner, so I cannot foresee him allowing this to slow him down.

Image Credit – The Undefeated

The Saints are perennial contenders under Brees and while many pieces have contributed to this success, Brees is the face of it. He helped bring them back from consistent losers, to Superbowl champions. They will not want this to stop and have the tools for any Quarterback to thrive. Bringing in a player like Watson would be huge for this continuity and both sides would benefit from this deal.

Will it happen? If Brees retires it becomes more likely, it depends how Payton feels about Hill, but with Watson on the market, a chance to compete for another 15 years at the top of the NFL seems too good to pass up.

New England Patriots

Bill Belichick finished 3rd in the AFC East in 2020 and did not make the playoffs. The last time they finished anything less than 2nd was in 2000, that is 20 years ago. In the following 19 years, they have missed the playoffs twice before this year not winning the division in those years. Tom Brady’s Rookie year was the year 2000, and they have dominated the division, and the league ever since. They have won 6 Superbowls in that time and be a constant force in the AFC.

Image Credit – Sports Illustrated

They finished 7-9 in the first year of the post Brady era, however Belichick is still in the building. He is one half of the reason they were so successful for so long, however for every year he misses the playoffs, every year it will be questioned if he can do it without the GOAT. The Cam Newton experiment did not work out and fans will not want the success they have enjoyed to end.

Enter DeShaun Watson, he is young, he is under contract and he is a competitor. Bill Belichick is a master coach and with a player as talented as Watson, it would be interesting to see how far he can go. Another factor which could play a role in this potential new partnership is that Bill O’Brien, Watson’s on NFL Head Coach is a former assistant under Belichick. O’Brien was a well-respected Offensive Co-ordinator under Belichick; therefore, Watson is likely already familiar with the Patriot way.

Image Credit – Houston Chronicle

If DeShaun Watson gets an opportunity to go to Foxborough he will grab it with both hands, the organisation is known for winning, and he would get to play for one of the all-time greats. He would enter a situation where stars are made, especially at Quarterback. He approach to this offseason however would not be tolerated. Belichick does not enjoy the media getting involved with his team, so as long as Watson’s very public fallout with the Texans is a blip, then he will be just fine.

Will it happen? People have always said it does not matter who Belichick has under centre, he will still win. That may have been true with Brady backups, but a completely new Quarterback showed that the Patriots have some work to do. To avoid a total reset, the Pats should be pushing hard for this trade.

New York Jets

The 2020 New York Jets were in a word embarrassing. Without a win in the first 14 weeks, they looked like a team primed to draft first and primed to pick first in the 2021 NFL Draft. With Trevor Lawrence seen as the overwhelming favourite for that number 1 pick, people were talking about Lawrence to the Jets as early as week 6. Others around them were bad, but the Jets were always worse, looking completely ineffective for most of the season.

Image Credit – Los Angeles Times

Then in typical Jets fashion, they won 2 games back-to-back in week 15 and week 16, against playoff teams, to end their season 2-12. In doing so they managed to lose out again, this time on the coveted number one overall pick. Jacksonville now get this honour and with them all but certain to pick Trevor Lawrence who do the Jets go with as their Quarterback of the future.

In house they have Sam Darnold, a former first round pick who is clearly very talented. In the draft, discounting Trevor Lawrence they have the chance at the consensus 2nd best Quarterback in the NFL draft in Justin Fields. Question marks however as posed about both of these players. Darnold has been with the Jets since 2018, and although he has shown flashes, he has not taken the next steps to becoming their franchise saviour. Fields is an unknown quantity as a Rookie, and one who’s stock is rising fast. It would therefore likely be a reach to go with him at number 2, especially when they have holes all over their team.

Image Credit – FiveThirtyEight

The way they ended the season shows that the players they have want to fight and that they do possess some quality in their ranks. With the second pick available and the Texans not in the first round, they have the commodity to be able to offer a trade. Especially if they can also leverage Darnold into the trade, the Texans receive the second overall pick, a potential franchise Quarterback in Darnold and the chance to go for the best player available in the draft.

Will it happen? Probably not. Should it happen? Yes, I think so, moving the second overall pick and Sam Darnold, plus some later round picks, gets both Quarterbacks a fresh start which I think both would thrive in, the Texans can rebuild, and the Jets can get back to winning ways.

Honourable mentions:

Washington Football Team – Washington lack a plan going forward, they are the only team in the playoffs without a true starting Quarterback. Alex Smith does not look the same since his injury and they have nothing else of note on the roster, Watson would be a welcome addition to a young and hungry playoff team.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Tom Brady may be the greatest Quarterback of all time, but he is also 43 years old. He will eventually retire and if that happens soon, the Bucs will want to replace him while they are still a playoff team. Bruce Arians showed he will chase the big fish and in the 2020 offseason, DeShaun Watson is the big fish.

Jacksonville Jaguars – They know Watson very well and will know what he can bring to the team. If they are not completely sold on Trevor Lawrence, a trade to the Texans with the number 1 overall pick as the offering is something the Texans must seriously consider. Swapping their First-Round pick for the potential at the centrepiece for their franchise is a very tempting prospect.

Will anything actually change?

Deshaun Watson wants a change, but just asking for something to happen does not mean it will. He has a big contract, but his talent speaks for itself. He will back himself and any coach would be lucky to have a player of his calibre. A new Head Coach and a new General Manager may want to build the franchise around him, knowing they do not have much in the way of draft picks. He however will bring those picks in, therefore if they are not 100% sold on Watson as the face of franchise, he may be looking to pastures new.

Image Credit – Texans Wire

Blockbuster trades like this are few and far between, however I really think could become a very realistic prospect. Teams will be seeing a clearly very talented player who is unhappy in his surroundings. If any of the other 31 teams in the NFL are doubting their starters, Watson is primed to move. Now that the season is over for most, the excitement can begin.

Final Thoughts

DeShaun Watson wants out, and with the new coaching staff coming in, it is the perfect time for a swift breakup without any mess. Watson will be a huge loss, but if they can get high draft picks in return, they can start the rebuild process with a new number 1 Quarterback. The longer Watson is forced to stay, the more frustrated he will become. A trade is the best for both sides.

I believe Watson will move in the offseason, and based on my discussion above, I believe he goes to New England, they have the money to do it, the space to fill and they want a winner. We also are all acutely aware of how Belichick drafts and he loves to trade for more picks, while completely disregarding the first round. The trade for Watson ticks all the boxes.

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