If DeShaun Watson gets traded, these are the teams who need him most


DeShaun Watson potentially wanting out of Houston is the predictable end to this mess. It wasn’t long ago the Texans were seemingly on the verge of perennial playoff berths with enough upside to contend for a Super Bowl. Since then, the team has suffered from terrible coaching and a series of poor decisions from ownership and mismanagement that have turned a promising roster into laughingstock.

As bad as things have been, there was still one beacon for Houston. They still had Watson, unquestionably one of the best young quarterbacks in the league — who still managed to throw for almost 5,000 yards and post a QB rating of 112.3 with limited weapons or help. Everyone has their breaking point though, and it appears Watson has reached his. Now he’s reportedly unhappy after being frozen out of the front office hiring process, with some speculating he could ask for a trade. While it would cost a bounty of draft picks and future assets, teams should be blowing up Houstons’ phone with the persistent of a drunk ex.

Here are a few franchises

New England Patriots

Why it makes sense:

The Patriots are moving on from Cam Newton and are in dire need of a quarterback. It’s apparent that nobody on the roster has the skills to get the job done, and with Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels at the helm Watson would be able to make a huge impact. As fun as it is to make jokes about the Pats’ misfortunes, they’re still a really good team who is close to returning to the playoffs. Watson and a few tweaks would certainly put New England back on the right track.

Why it doesn’t:

A trade for Watson is going to cost a lot. The Patriots don’t have a lot of solid tradeable assets the Texans would be interested in, meaning this would take a significant number of high draft picks to get a deal done. That’s antithetical to how Belichick runs the team, If we assume it will take, say, two first rounders and a second to get Watson, is that a deal the Patriots would be okay with?

That’s really tough to say, and would be the largest sticking point here.

Atlanta Falcons

Why it makes sense:

The Falcon are far better than their record shows. I think 2020 was an outlier, and with a little support this team will be really good again. It appears the Falcons are ready to move on from Matt Ryan, and rather than rolling the dice on a top QB, adding Watson to the roster would be incredible. This would be a dream scenario for the Falcons, who have a history of being happy to make big trades.

Why it doesn’t:

It’s hard to come up with a reason why this doesn’t work. Honestly, all it would take would be the Texans taking Ryan in return (along with picks) and this deal is done. Draft a new QB with Atlanta’s No. 4 pick, have them learn under Ryan — it’s a pretty good scenario if you’re Houston.

Washington Football Team

Why it makes sense:

This is a playoff team, with an elite defense, and enough offensive weapons that they’re pretty much a quarterback away from making a major push. Washington has boat loads of cap space, meaning they could afford Watson AND still get a weapon or two in free agency.

Why it doesn’t:

The big sticking point for Watson in Houston is dysfunction, and while the ship has been steadied under Ron Rivera, this is still one of the most dysfunctional teams in the NFL. Would Watson be happy? That’s hard to say.

San Francisco 49ers

Why it makes sense:

This was a hugely disappointing season for San Francisco that was wracked by injury, but that also presents an opportunity. Here’s a team, one year removed from a Super Bowl, with a potential to correct its biggest problem by landing an elite quarterback.

Why it doesn’t:

I can definitely see a scenario where San Francisco either wants to give Jimmy Garropollo another shot, or let a young QB learn behind him. If the 49ers value their assets too much that’s the only sticking point to pulling the trigger now.

Carolina Panthers

Why it makes sense:

Perhaps it’s a touch early to declare that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t “the guy,” but it’s looking that way. Statistically Bridgewater was fine during his first season in Carolina, but he appears to be more of a player who won’t lose you a game, rather than win you one. Carolina is being given a lot of quarterbacks in mock drafts for a reason, and Watson would be a better, safer bet — with an infrastructure around him for success.

Why it doesn’t:

The biggest issue here is cap space. Carolina would need to clear significant money off the books in order to take on Watson’s salary, and give up assets in the process. Would Houston take on Bridgewater (plus picks) in return? Do they have any interest in Christian McCaffery? These are the kind of contracts the Panthers would need to move in order to make the space required for Watson. That’s tough to imagine.

New Orleans Saints

Why it makes sense:

New Orleans built its last 15 years off signing Drew Brees. It was a good idea to get a talented, young quarterback then, it’s a good idea now. It’s scary to think how long the Saints’ could remain atop the NFC if they manage to pivot into getting DeShaun Watson now.

Why it doesn’t:

The Saints are in cap hell. They have too many players making too much money. As it stands there are going to need to be significant cuts or restructuring as it stands to get under the cap, before we talk about adding another $23M to the mix.

That said, NFL accounting can get creative. The question is: Who on the Saints roster would Houston take on to get a deal done?

Miami Dolphins

Why it makes sense:

The Dolphins are far more complete than anyone expected, and 2020 proved they’re ready to make a playoff push. I’m of the opinion that Miami doesn’t need to make a move, and offensive issues with Tua Tagovailoa are more a product of Chan Gailey than Tua himself, but there’s no doubt that Watson is ready, right now, to take an established team to the next level.

Miami has the cap space to absorb Watson’s contract, and Tagovailoa is a heck of an asset if the incoming Houston front office likes him. This could be the most likely destination when the dust settles.

Why it doesn’t:

There’s something to be said about staying the course. Tagovailoa might not have finished making the rookie impact that Joe Burrow or Justin Herbert did, but there’s plenty to be optimistic about. This could be a case where sitting, and letting things develop is preferable to trading away their boon of assets to get Watson.



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