The NFL is a gift that just keeps on giving. First and foremost, we have the actual NFL season, which by and large is the best product that the sports world has to offer. But even when the season is over and a Super Bowl winner has been crowned, we are still just getting started. The NFL offseason is often a time where NFL fans are consumed with storylines about who their favorite team is going to sign in free agency, or how their favorite draft prospect is going to fare at the Senior Bowl or the NFL Scouting Combine. The offseason is also a time where players who are sick of their current team can request trades and try to free themselves from their toxic situation. There truly isn’t a better drama show than the NFL offseason, and that is one of the things that continues to make the league king.
The latest piece of drama the NFL offseason has given us is a big one—and it's only the offseason for 18 of the 32 teams! Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson has apparently had enough with this chaotic and dysfunctional franchise and is on the verge of requesting a trade. This is the type of drama that we NFL fans crave, and it's even better when the collective NFL fandom would benefit greatly from a potential trade.
The Texans don’t deserve Watson. Period. Whether it was failing to field a quality offensive line to protect him or trading one of his best friends on the team and All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for a bag of Cheetos, it is clear that the franchise has failed Watson, and it appears to have reached a breaking point.
The latest source of Watson’s frustration with the franchise is from how the team has operated their search for their open head coach and general manager vacancies. It was originally reported that Watson would have a say in these hirings, and while he won’t be making the final decision, he would at least have a seat at the table with his voice being heard. From the outside this looked like progress from a franchise that had subjected Watson to four years under a dictator-like operation with then-head coach Bill O’Brien. However, it looks like even this was too good to be true. The Texans ultimately failed to include Watson in any conversation regarding their GM search and wound up hiring New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel, and friend of Texans Executive V.P. of Football Operations Jack Easterby, for their top personnel position.
The fact that the Texans didn't consult Watson at all in the process and that he found out about the news on social media just shows the amount of disrespect and dysfunction this team has shown him. Additionally, Watson specifically expressed his interest in Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is widely considered one of the top candidates in the coaching cycle. Of course, the Texans are the only team with a head coaching vacancy to not even request to interview him, while the others are lined up waiting for their turn to speak to him.
If I were Watson, I'd want out too.
Now the likelihood that we see Watson dealt in the next few months is extremely low and would be unprecedented. Watson’s cap hit of $22 million would be tough for the Texans to swallow, and then there is the question of what do the Texans do to replace a talent like Watson. Sure, a team could offer a ridiculous amount of first- and second-round picks, but Watson is truly one of the top 5-7 players in the NFL and is coming off a career year that saw him set highs in almost every statistical category.
As much as the football world wants to see Watson traded and finally freed from the disastrous situation that he is in, it's just not going to happen. BUT that won’t stop us from thinking about the best possible landing spots if a trade did occur. Here are five teams that I think would be the best fit for Watson in a potential trade, not considering cap space or draft capital, just purely from a player-team fit perspective.
Bears fans rejoice! All of your tears and nightmares of passing Watson for Mitchell Trubisky in the 2017 NFL Draft could be cured with a second chance at the Clemson Tiger stud. If Watson were to become available, the Bears HAVE to make the call.
Chicago is in a very tough spot. They have a good roster, with strong offensive skill players, an outstanding defense, and a young developing offensive line. However, their quarterback play has been average at best. The issue for the Bears is that they are stuck in quarterback purgatory, in that they are too good to have a top-10 pick to get a top quarterback, but clearly aren’t good enough with their current signal caller to win big. Adding Watson would change everything. They would instantly go to not just a playoff lock, but a legit Super Bowl contender with Watson at the helm of this offense.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
If Watson somehow got traded to the 49ers it would be over for the NFC. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has all but said that Jimmy Garoppolo is not assured a starting job next season, and one has to believe that Shanahan will be in the market for a quarterback whether through free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft. Garoppolo has played pretty well when healthy as the starting quarterback, and it was just last year when he led the team to the Super Bowl and had a legit chance to beat the Chiefs. The issue with Garoppolo is his inability to stay healthy, as he has missed 24 games over the last three seasons.
Watson is an infinitely better quarterback than Garoppolo, and I can only imagine the type of production and success he and an offensive guru like Shanahan would have together. The 49ers, when healthy, have an outstanding defense and an exciting group of playmakers in tight end George Kittle and receivers Brandon Ayuik and Deebo Samuel. Adding Watson to this team would just be unfair.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
This would be an interesting one. The Saints have one of the best overall rosters in the league, but with Drew Brees on the verge of retirement, the team will be forced to make a move at quarterback. Like Chicago, this team is too good to be in position to draft a top quarterback high in the draft. They could, however, trade picks to move up in the draft to get their guy, but if Watson were to actually become available, it could just make more sense to trade picks for a proven star like him rather than an unproven rookie. Of course, there is the matter of the Saints being in salary cap hell, but it’s still fun to pretend and think about an offense with Watson under center, Alvin Kamara in the backfield, and Michael Thomas outside with Sean Payton calling plays. Get your popcorn ready.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The Football Team was one of the better surprises in the NFL this season, and amidst a name change, their coach battling cancer, and a ton of drama from their quarterback room, they made the playoffs. Now, of course, they made the playoffs by winning the NFC East, a laughingstock of a division, with just a 7-9 record, but hey, they got in. If you put the team’s record aside for a second, it is clear to whoever has watched this team this season or studied their roster, this is one of the best up and coming teams in all of the NFL. They have outstanding young playmakers in running back Antonio Gibson, receiver Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas. They have a defense that has potential to be one of the league's best, led by a phenomenal front seven that consists of players like Chase Young and Montez Sweat.
The only thing this team is missing from being a contender is a star quarterback. Enter Watson. Watson has shown that he can lead teams with bad defenses to the playoffs, but in D.C he wouldn’t have to. He could play within himself, knowing that he doesn’t have to score 30-plus points to get a win, and that this defense will have his back.
Now, there is the matter of do we really want to send Watson from one questionable ownership to another, and I really don’t, but I can’t argue the fact that I think Watson on Washington would be an almost instant hit.
The Drew Lock experience has been just OK, to put it nicely. The 2019 second-round pick has shown flashes of being a quality NFL starter, but the inconsistencies and accuracy issues that haunted him at Mizzou have been a major issue in the NFL. Denver has struggled to find a long-term franchise quarterback really since John Elway retired in 1998. Sure, the team had some success with Jake Plummer and had a historic run with Peyton Manning for a few seasons, but the team has yet to have a young franchise difference-maker in 20-plus years. Watson could solve all of Denver’s quarterback problems and then some.
Adding Watson to an offense that has Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay in the backfield, Cortland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy on the outside, along with Noah Fant at tight end, would be ridiculous. A division that could consist of Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Deshaun Watson would be a dream come true for football fans (and a nightmare for Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders).