Watson & the Texans: What’s next?

Rumours abound yesterday kicked off by Mike Florio on ProFootball Talk that Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson was considering asking for a trade. Griff touched on the subject on a post at the end of last week predicting starting quarterbacks in the AFC through 2021 and whilst we all brushed it off as ‘yeah it could happen, but probably won’t’ – it’s now looking a little more likely.

The Texans gave Watson a four year $156m contract at the beginning of last year with the view of him being the cornerpiece of the organisation for the foreseeable future. But following the trade of DeAndre Hopkins and the lack of any other talent on the roster, the Texans dropped to a 4-12 record with those four wins coming mainly from the talent of Watson himself. Head coach/GM Bill O’Brien was relieved of his duties at the start of the year and the Texans insisted that they would move back to a GM and Head Coach organisation, illiminating the need for one person to fulfill both roles.

Given the importance that a quarterback has in an ordinary organisation it was reported that Watson would have a say on the appointment of both positions. And that would make sense especially so when you’re an organisation like the Texans where your quarterback is literally the only player who is young and worth of building around (JJ Watt would have been that five years ago, but his best days are probably behind him). We heard that Watson was keen on a move for Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy which made sense given how the Chiefs offense ticks and how well many think Watson could fit into it. However, the Texans haven’t requested an interview with the coordinator, despite interviewing many other options.

Then we hear that they’re about to hire Patriots exec Nick Caserio as GM. The Texans have wanted Caserio for a number of years but now with the Patriots seemingly entering a rebuild, it was a sensible time for him to move destinations. I quite liked the move, though former Patriots coaches and execs often seem out of their depth once they leave Foxborough. The problem was, despite the promise that Watson would be consulted, he wasn’t.

Statistically, Watson had a good 2021. But the wins never came due to the disruption and lack of talent across the roster. He’s previously behaved impeccably and seemed patient to wait with his contract and have the organisation build around him. But by not consulting him in the hiring process and seemingly ignoring his suggestions, he’s got to be feeling grumpy and it’s no wonder he’s starting to question his future in Houston. Would he ask for a trade? Possibly. Will he be granted a trade? Maybe.

The Texans have very little draft capital and very little cap space heading into 2021. I don’t envy Caserio’s position and I hope that he’s got gaurantees from ownership that he won’t be judged on the teams performance over the first two years of his tenure because there is A LOT of work to do. Trading Watson could clear some cap space and would, presumably, bring in much needed draft picks. There’s a lot of quaterback needy teams heading into 2021 and Watson is a proven commodity. Here’s a quick look at possibilities but realistically, there are probably 10-15 teams that you could make an argument for getting involved:

Jaguars: It may very well be take the No.1 pick to get it done, but even if it’s their second first round pick + others it would at least give the Texans premium draft capital. It would give the Jags a gaurantee at QB (yes, Lawrence is more or less a guarantee but there’s always a question mark over every prospect). The big stumnbling block is if the Texans want to trade within the division, probably not.

Patriots: They need a quarterback, they’ve got draft capital to trade and cap space to pay for Watson. By bringing in Cam last year they demonstrated a desire to have a mobile quaterback and now with Caserio in place, there’s a strong link between the respective GMs.

49ers: Could include Jimmy Garoppolo into a potential trade deal giving the Texans at least a servicable quarterback whilst they rebuild. The No.12 pick and possibly a high round pick next year will need to be included but Shanahan would salivate about having someone as talented as Watson under centre. If the 49ers could pull off a move for Watson they would immediately be placed as one of the best teams in the NFL.

Saints: Brees is going to retire at the end of the year. Payton seems to like the idea of a mobile quarterback with his use of Hill during the regular season when Brees broke all his ribs. The problem here might be the low first round pick which the Saints could offer versus those above in this list.

Jets: Like the 49ers they could offer a ready made replacement. Like the Jaguars, they could offer a top draft pick. The Jets have also got a lot of draft capital they could add to sweeten a deal and Watson’s mobility would be an asset with an average offensive line (he’s done it Houston after all!).

Main credit image: “Deshaun Watson” by KA Sports Photos is licensed with CC BY-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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