Will Trading Deshaun Watson To Jets Yield Best Return For Texans?

Photo: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You know, it’s as the old saying goes: during the NFL playoffs, teams will come and go, but Deshaun Watson trade rumors are forever.

I feel like we’re all cast members in the movie Anchorman when they’re on “Panda Watch” for the birth of a new baby panda. Except the baby panda is Watson going to a different NFL team, and we don’t all have mustaches.

It seems as though as the days pass, the closer and closer we all get to truly believing Watson has played his last snaps for the Houston Texans. As long as owner Cal McNair is in charge of things, it appears Jack Easterby is going to be involved in the organization. With that being the case, it appears Watson will not be.

Though we all assume that Watson has made it perfectly clear to the Texans that he is not happy, it has not been reported that he has officially asked for a trade. However, a recent report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter says the Texans have had internal discussions about what a Waston trade might be like for them.

That, folks, is the smoke. And if there’s smoke…

Watson being on the market would be unprecedented. A player of his age (25) and as good as he is (a top-five quarterback) becoming available would, in a vacuum, fetch an insane price. If teams have traded three first-round picks for rookie quarterbacks who haven’t even played a down in the NFL yet, what is Watson worth? Five first-round picks? Six? The NFL doesn’t really do that. Finding value in picks that are five and six years away doesn’t move the needle much. There comes a point where they’re just words on the page. So what can the Texans get for Watson that would still give them impact value in a shorter time frame while understanding that teams aren’t just going to give up every single pick they have in the next two or three years, even for Watson?

One would think the Texans would have plenty of leverage to get a massive deal from any team that would want to trade for Watson’s services. But, there is one little detail that has the chance to derail that for Houston. Watson currently has a no-trade clause in his contract, so he would have to approve of any destination the Texans agree to send him to.

It has been reported that Watson may be interested in being traded to the Miami Dolphins. We’ve already outlined how Miami could offer a great price to the Texans that would not only likely get the deal done, but also not be too crippling to them in the long term. But what about a non-Miami team? What about the New York Jets?

Miami can offer a great haul of picks including No. 3 overall in 2020, and they can offer a young quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa. But the Jets can do the Texans even better with No. 2 overall in 2020 and quarterback Sam Darnold.

NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah chimed in on the potential Watson/Jets trade.

Then, yours truly took it a step further.

If the Texans are moving on from Watson, they’re blowing it all up. They’re leaving no stone unturned. Basically, anyone not named Laremy Tunsil should be on the table to either move on from or trade away. If the Texans were to do a trade with the Jets, they could get a haul of, not just multiple picks, but also a young quarterback in Darnold. 

Let’s just say they grab three first-round picks and Sam Darnold. It might just be two (who knows at this point). But if they do that and stick with Darnold for the next year or so, they could then move back from No. 2 overall, trading the prized pick to a team like the San Francisco 49ers, New England Patriots, Indianapolis Colts, Chicago Bears, etc. who would pay a high price to go up and get a quarterback in this year’s draft. They would likely get even more first-round picks on top of the picks they got for Watson. That could ease the pain of seeing Watson elsewhere with Darnold and a first-round pick this year, three firsts next year, and three firsts the year after that.

Losing Watson is objectively bad. But it seems nearly inevitable at this point. If that is the case, the Texans are going to have to get creative to get the most back for moving him. You can only get so much in a singular trade when you move Watson. That’s just the way it is. But what you get in future moves with those new assets could make the return for Watson much bigger than a singular deal. Stacking trades on top of trades to get more picks would be the solution to a problem the Texans may not be able to solve otherwise.