Four Possible Deshaun Watson Trade Scenarios

On Feb. 20, disgruntled Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson met with new Head Coach David Culley to reiterate his desire to be traded, stating that he would never again play for the Houston Texans just six months after signing a long-term contract extension through 2025. In those six months, the Texans regressed from AFC South division champions to a 4-12 record in 2020. To add to their misery, the Miami Dolphins own the Texans’ first two draft picks this year due to the 2019 trade for left tackle Laremy Tunsil. These last six months also saw the unprecedented rise of Jack Easterby, who served as a team chaplain for the New England Patriots before coming to Houston and is now the team’s executive vice president of football operations. While the Texans insist they will not trade their young superstar quarterback, it does not eliminate some of the potential trade possibilities, which would likely include at least three first-round picks.

Miami Dolphins: The Dolphins were a surprise team in 2020, winning 10 games and barely missing the playoffs. However, rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was inconsistent for the team when he played and a trade for Watson would almost certainly provide an upgrade to this win-ready team. For a trade to happen, they would likely have to give up Tagovailoa, the third overall pick in the 2021 draft that they acquired from the Texans, the 18th pick, the 36th pick also originally owned by Houston and a 2022 first-round pick. Because of their draft capital, the Dolphins can afford to offer a strong package to Houston while at the same time not risking any picks beyond 2022 and the Texans would receive a quarterback that was just selected fifth overall, along with three picks this year in the top 36 and a first-round pick next year.

New York Jets: Like the Dolphins, the Jets also possess strong draft capital. In 2021, they own the second overall pick along with the Seattle Seahawks’ 23rd pick, thanks to the Jamal Adams trade last season. The Jets also own the Seahawks’ first-round pick in 2022, giving them four first-round picks in the next two years. A trade would likely include those four picks, as well as giving struggling quarterback Sam Darnold the chance to revive his career in Houston. However, the Jets do not have a team that is ready to compete for the playoffs, as their 2-14 last year indicated. With a roster barren of talent, a trade for Watson would severely affect their ability to improve their roster through the draft, but an upgrade at quarterback would certainly improve the Jets’ ceiling.

Carolina Panthers: The Panthers finished 2020 5-11 and do not have extra first round draft capital like the Jets or Dolphins. However, they were very competitive last season with a young roster and were without superstar running back Christian McCaffery for all but three games. Carolina lost five games by five points or fewer last season and Deshaun Watson could be the upgrade needed to flip those losses to wins. Also, Watson is already well connected to the Carolina area from his time playing at Clemson University, which is about a two-hour drive from Charlotte. A trade for Watson would likely involve Teddy Bridgewater, the eighth pick this year, first-round picks through 2024 and maybe even Christian McCaffery. Even for a package that strong, the Panthers would ultimately be smart to bring Deshaun Watson to Charlotte with a chance to compete in the NFC South with all other teams in the division needing new quarterbacks soon.

San Francisco 49ers: On the heels of nearly winning the Super Bowl in 2019, the 49ers faced the wrath of injuries on both sides of the ball and struggled to a 6-10 record in 2020. With Watson in San Francisco, his talent along with the creativity of Head Coach Kyle Shanahan would make the 49ers instant contenders in the NFC. The most interesting trade possibility would include current starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, linebacker Dre Greenlaw, the 12th pick this year and first-round picks through 2023. While this offer is less enticing for Houston than the offers Carolina, the Jets or Miami could make, the Texans get a starting-caliber quarterback with contract flexibility, a young linebacker to improve a struggling defense and three first-round picks to improve their roster.

All of these potential trade scenarios create discussion and speculation, but the offer that makes the most sense on both sides is likely the Dolphins’. While the Jets have the most draft capital, the 49ers have the most upside for Watson, and Carolina might be the most intriguing option. This article only included four potential scenarios, though most NFL teams would be upgrading significantly at quarterback with Watson on their roster. With a no-trade clause in his contract, Watson can choose his next destination and will want to end up in a situation where he can be part of a team that can compete for championships now and in the future. Ultimately, Watson is one of the most talented young quarterbacks in the NFL and with a solid roster around him, his team should be competing for Super Bowl Championships.