What’s up with Watson?
There are a lot of bells, whistles and red flags that go into a potential Deshaun Watson trade, but that hasn’t stopped teams from reportedly giving the Texans an inquiring call ahead of the Nov. 2 trade deadline.
The first, biggest and most important issue: When will federal authorities will complete their investigation into Watson’s extremely concerning sexual assault allegations? What charges, if any, will Watson face, and what recourse will accusers have? Secondarily, what will the NFL do if the results of the investigation prove particularly damning?
MORE: Latest news, updates on Deshaun Watson trade rumors
The second issue in a Watson trade: The quarterback has a full no-trade clause, giving him a lot of leverage and say where he goes. Several teams have called for Watson, but reports have indicated that he may not be interested in anyone other than Miami.
Unfortunately, the league doesn’t seem to want to stop for anything or anyone — including that investigation — so several teams have reportedly been interested in Watson’s services. So, who should really trade for a guy embroiled in such a gross situation? Well, no one, really.
But if NFL teams want to move forward with bringing Watson aboard, there are two who should, and two who shouldn’t, make that deal.
Should: Carolina Panthers
The Panthers already made the mistake of shipping off second, fourth and sixth-rounders to the Jets in exchange for Sam Darnold, a move that isn’t exactly working out for anyone involved.
First-year GM Scott Fitterer has already proven to be tremendously aggressive on the trade market, notching 11 trade before the start of the season, tying the mark left by prior GMs in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
With a defense that’s ready to ascend to the upper echelon, the Panthers can’t (and shouldn’t) waste time trying to figure out where their passer of the future is coming from. The 2021 NFL Draft is already fairly weak on upper-echelon passing prospects, and Darnold doesn’t look to be the long-term answer for the Panthers moving forward.
Watson would provide the surest bet, and with a supporting cast that features Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Robby Anderson, the offense would instantly be elevated by Watson’s arrival, as well.
While there are questions of the offensive line, Watson has shown he can make chicken salad out of chicken crap, and the Panthers will still have avenues to improve it, even without first-round picks in the coming years.
MORE: Can Deshaun Watson play in 2021?
Shouldn’t: Miami Dolphins
While the Dolphins are Watson’s preferred destination, Miami has enough issues to figure out without bankrupting its future in the immediate.
The Dolphins are in the midst of an incredibly disappointing 1-6 season — the type of 1-6 season that gets people fired, especially after a year of promising returns in 2021. Quarterback isn’t exactly the issue, and Tua Tagovailoa hasn’t exactly been given a fair shake, either.
That said, the time is running out for the Dolphins to put together a cohesive unit underneath GM Chris Grier. Grier’s recent drafts haven’t exactly borne the best results, especially their supposed franchise-altering 2020 draft; The jury is still out on a solid but unspectacular Tagovailoa, tackle Austin Jackson has been underwhelming in his second year (51.3 PFF grade) and the offensive line as a whole has been pretty porous.
Couple those draft returns with the fact that the Dolphins are pretty mediocre defensively and will have a lot of holes to fill next offseason (only 35 players under contract entering the new league year), and Miami has a first-round pick (49ers via pre-draft trade in 2021).
The Dolphins also have an extra 2023 first-rounder courtesy of that same pre-draft trade to San Fran, but there are just too many holes for Miami to fill right now and in the coming years to bankrupt their top draft capital to acquire Watson.
Should: Denver Broncos
The Broncos defense isn’t great, despite having the NFL’s highest-paid unit. Still, the team has plenty of young pieces that could grow under Vic Fangio’s watch, and with an elite quarterback like Watson at the helm, the team could turn the corner and fast.
On offense, the Broncos have continued the churn of finding the next franchise passer. Here’s a list of guys who have started since Peyton Manning retired following 2015:
- Trevor Siemian
- Paxton Lynch
- Brock Osweiler
- Case Keenum
- Joe Flacco
- Drew Lock
- Brandon Allen
- Brett Rypien
- Jeff Driskel
- Kendall Hinton (COVID start)
- Teddy Bridgewater
…and there’s more than a good chance that they’ll move onto QB No. 12 this offseason.
The Broncos feature several tremendously talented wide receivers (Jerry Jeudy, KJ Hamler, Courtland Sutton) and a solid tight end in Noah Fant, so the pieces around the quarterback are certainly there, should Watson want to win in the immediate and waive his no-trade clause to head to a division that already has three excellent quarterbacks.
A trade for Watson would help the Broncos now and moving forward, and would probably help position them better for the postseason this year than any other team currently trying to trade for him.
MORE: What to know about Deshaun Watson lawsuits
Shouldn’t: Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen Hurts is in the midst of an uneven sophomore season as Eagles starter, but he’s not the reason that the Eagles should keep their picks.
The Eagles are sitting pretty with two first-rounder (and potentially three, via the Carson Wentz trade) in the nest for the 2022 draft. Would it be worth giving away all three picks for Watson now? Probably not.
First-year head coach Nick Sirianni should be given the opportunity to help build a roster in his vision underneath Howie Roseman. The early returns aren’t bad, especially with wideout Devonta Smith. While Hurts probably won’t turn out to be the long-term solution for the Eagles moving forward and the 2022 Draft is light on passers, there could be a player (or two) who ascends up draft boards between now and then.
That would also give the Eagles and Roseman another pick or two to work with to rebuild the team on both sides of the ball, which is where the Eagles are heading by the looks of things.