Although all the trade rumors and talk have died down a bit, it doesn’t seem like there is any way for the Houston Texans to reconcile the relationship with star Quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Watson has been unhappy with the management decisions made by the organization, and now just months after signing a four-year, $156 million contract, he is ready to move on.
So who are the top suitors to land Watson? Here, I will rank each team’s likelihood of trading for Watson, as well as coming up with a potential trade package for any team over a 5/10. Let’s do it.
Arizona Cardinals: 4/10
At this point in their careers, Watson is much more developed than Murray. The Cardinals, while not likely, could want the more proven entity in Watson than wait and see what Kyler could become. It would also reunite Watson with his favorite target in DeAndre Hopkins. But, the move is very unlikely, based on the fact that Arizona will have to have given up on Murray in two short years.
Atlanta Falcons: 7/10
Potential Trade Package: Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, 2021 1st (No. 4 Overall), 2022 2nd, 2022 4th
Yes, this seems like a lot of big names and pieces being thrown around in this package. But you have to remember, Ryan and Jones are on the tail ends of their careers, and with enormous contracts. Even though Watson signed that big contract for the next four years that I mentioned, they won’t be saving much money by adding this duo in. Assuming my math is correct, Ryan and Jones are owed a little more than $121 million over the next three seasons, and their play is nowhere near the level of Watson. That means if the Falcons really want Watson and want to avoid the risk of drafting a rookie QB whose name will not be Trevor Lawrence, they’ll have to part ways with some extra draft capital this year.
Baltimore Ravens: 1/10
If I’m the Ravens, I would explore a Lamar Jackson for Deshaun Watson trade, because based off this season, Jackson is not the guy for me. If I’m the Texans and the Ravens brought this to me, I’d want no part in it, because Jackson proved his nowhere near Watson’s level.
Buffalo Bills: 0/10
The Bills are one of two teams receiving a 0/10. Josh Allen showed immense growth this season, and would be much closer in the MVP run in any other year. Allen is perfect for the Bills’ system they have in place, and getting Watson would only mess with the chemistry. Watson to Buffalo is one of two teams where I feel they would be downgrading their QB position.
Carolina Panthers: 10/10
Potential Trade Package: Jeremey Chinn, Teddy Bridgewater, D.J. Moore/Robbie Anderson, 2021 1st (No. 8 overall), 2022 2nd
While I think the Panthers should give Bridgewater a season with a fully healthy Christian McCaffrey, I understand moving him for Watson. This deal would bring in a top-five Quarterback to play alongside a top-five Running Back, and it would make the offense devastating. Chinn would have won Defensive Rookie of the Year had it not been for Chase Young, and is going to be a stud safety in the league for years to come. If you throw him in with a replacement QB in Bridgewater, D.J. Moore or Robbie Anderson to be the new WR1 if Will Fuller leaves, and a few picks, the Texans will have a serviceable offense, and land a young stud defender, on top of draft capital almost equal to what Bill O’Brien sent away. Not a bad haul for trading away a guy who doesn’t want to play for you anymore.
Chicago Bears: 2/10
While the Bears desperately need a Quarterback for the future, we have to remember, Ryan Pace traded up one spot and drafted Mitch Trubisky over Watson. Pace will more likely explore other trade options, like Sam Darnold from the Jets, rather than come back with his tail between his legs and back up on his selection.
Cincinnati Bengals: 1/10
Joe Burrow was playing at a Rookie-of-the-Year level until his injury, so I doubt that the Bengals will move on from him so quickly. The only possibility of a trade here is if they move Burrow and Wideout stud Tee Higgins for Watson to avoid waiting for Burrow to be fully healthy again.
Baker Mayfield just won the Browns their first playoff game since what seems like forever. There’s very little chance that they move him, but this is Watson we’re talking about. Anything is possible.
Dallas Cowboys: 5/10
Potential Trade Package: Dak Prescott (sign and trade), Michael Gallup, Trevon Diggs, 2021 1st (No. 10 overall)
Okay hear me out, Jerry Jones loves making big flashy moves, and Watson is probably the flashiest name this year. I know the Cowboys are probably going to keep Dak after last season and what he was on pace for, but Watson is better than Prescott, and if the Cowboys aren’t sold on him, they could move him. The Cowboys would have to give up a lot in this trade,
Denver Broncos: 9/10
Potential Trade Package: Drew Lock, Tim Patrick, Justin Simmons (sign and trade), 2021 1st (No. 9 Overall), 2021 2nd
Apparently the Broncos are waiting for the Texans to commit to trade Watson, so they can be the first to pounce. Simmons is the top secondary free agent, and with him only being 27, he can still be the star player of a young defense. Lock has potential to be a great player, shown by some late-game heroics late in the season, but the Broncos are in a win-now situation, and don’t have time to wait for Lock to progress. Patrick broke out this season, and showed he has the ability to be a solid receiver in the league. Package these three with their first two picks this year, and the Broncos could have a superstar QB back at the helm, the first since Peyton Manning retired.
Detroit Lions: 1/10
After acquiring Jared Goff in a megadeal for Matthew Stafford, it is doubtful they would move him again before the start of the season. Plus, Watson won’t want to waive his no-trade clause for a team that is just as far away from winning a title as his current team.
Green Bay Packers: 1/10
Aaron Rodgers is coming off an MVP season, and doesn’t look like he has any interest in leaving any time soon. The Packers also invested their first round pick last year in Jordan Love, so they are set with a potential QB of the future. The Packers are also 28th in available cap space, so even if Watson wanted to go there, it is doubtful they would find the room to take on a lot of his cap hit.
Indianapolis Colts: 1/10
The Colts just made a huge move in trading for former Eagles QB Carson Wentz, to reunite him with his old QB Coach Frank Reich. Watson is a much better QB than Wentz at this point, but it is beyond doubtful that the Colts will make a play for their division-rival’s star.
Jacksonville Jaguars: 3/10
The same reason that the Colts don’t land Watson applies to the Jaguars as well. The Texans are not trading him in division (if at all). The only reason the Jags are a four to the Colts’ two, is that they have better draft capital to offer, the number one overall pick in each round, and they have solid defensive players as well (even though no one is as good as a Colts player). The Jags are also not in the position to win any time soon, meaning the Texans (in theory) could trade Watson there and not have to worry about the repercussions as much. But it still is never going to happen.
Kansas City Chiefs: 0/10
Patrick Mahomes. Yeah that should about cover it.
Los Angeles Chargers: 1/10
The Chargers just found a franchise guy in the reigning OROY Herbert, who is a fraction of the price of Watson. This really should be a zero, but you never know if the new head coach will want a more experienced guy or not, but this would very likely not happen here.
Los Angeles Rams: 1/10
The Rams found their “Win-now” guy in Matthew Stafford, even if it was a little pricey to dump Goff’s contract on the Lions. Even though Stafford is a little older and not as gifted as Watson, I think he fits the scheme for the Rams better, so there won’t be any surprise move here for Watson.
Las Vegas Raiders: 7/10
Potential Trade Package: Derek Carr/Marcus Mariota, Maxx Crosby, 2021 1st (No. 17 Overall), 2022 1st
It has been known for a few seasons now that the Raiders are not in love with Derek Carr, and are not going to commit to him for the future of the franchise. Marcus Mariota is also a hot commodity of late, as there are multiple reports of teams calling about the backup passer. With one of them, a fierce D-lineman in Crosby and two first round picks, we could be watching Watson light it up in Vegas for years to come.
Miami Dolphins: 10/10
Potential Trade Package: Tua Tagovailoa, 2021 1st (No. 3 overall), 2021 1st (No. 18 overall), 2022 3rd
Miami has been linked to Watson since the QB requested a trade what seems like forever ago. In return for a superstar QB, the Texans would receive their pick back from the Laremy Tunsil trade, the Dolphins’ first rounder this year, and another upper round pick. In return, the Dolphins get a QB who is a guy who can take the playoff-ready Fins deep for a championship run.
Minnesota Vikings: 2/10
The Vikings don’t seem to be looking to move on from Kirk Cousins, but rather they are interested in giving him stud pieces to utilize. Plus, in order to land Watson, the Vikings would potentially need to move pieces like Justin Jefferson or Dalvin Cook, along with a bunch of other picks. No way the Vikings make a move here.
New England Patriots: 4/10
I feel that Watson to the Pats would be devastating. That being said, there are two main reasons I think they won’t make the jump on Watson. Firstly, the Patriots don’t have the young stud players to please the Texans. The Patriots are made up of aging defensive stars, and mediocre, and some aging, offensive players. The other reason I feel the Pats won’t get Watson, is that Belichick doesn’t make moves like this. He also doesn’t like paying his players the type of contract that Watson currently holds.
New Orleans Saints: 1/10
While I feel Drew Brees will be retiring in the coming weeks, and that Watson would be a fantastic replacement. The only problem is, the Saints are in Salary Cap Hell, currently sitting somewhere around -$65-million to -$70- million. There’s no way they can take on his contract.
New York Giants: 3/10
Dave Gettleman will not be the one bringing Watson to New York. The Giants have the pieces and the draft picks, and are not too far under the Salary Cap, so the deal is very possible. However, Gettleman, in my opinion, does not want to give up on Daniel Jones just yet, and is far too conservative to pull the trigger on a deal.
New York Jets: 10/10
Potential Trade Package: Sam Darnold, 2021 1st (No. 2 overall), 2021 1st (No. 23 overall), 2022 3rd
Disclaimer: I am not a fan of bringing Watson to my Jets. Not because he is a bad player or I want to keep Darnold, but this is the first time in a long time the Jets have had this much draft capital and cap space. Regardless, Watson still has the Jets towards the top of his landing spots, so here is what I think the Jets would have to give up to get him. Darnold is still very young, he is younger than rookie Joe Burrow for some reference, yet he still has three years of starting experience. He can still become something in the league. Then the two first round picks this year will be a nice boost for the Texans, to speed up their rebuild. But still, I would like the Jets to hold on and save their assets, which probably means they’ll find a way to land Watson.
Philadelphia Eagles: 1/10
After trading Carson Wentz to the Colts, the Eagles are committed to running with Jalen Hurts. With the Eagles sitting around -$70 million in cap space, they will probably opt to keep Hurts, who holds a $1.3 million hit, instead of trading away other assets to take on Watson’s $16 million hit this year, which jumps up to $40 million or more a year going forward.
Pittsburgh Steelers: 5/10
Potential Trade Package: Chase Claypool, Anthony McFarland Jr., Sean Davis, 2021 1st (No. 24 overall), 2021 2nd
While the Steelers are currently sitting at -$15 million under the cap, but current QB Ben Roethlisberger is set to have a $41 million cap hit next year, where he and the team said that the number won’t hold. So, the 5/10 i have given the Steelers is 100% contingent on Big Ben retiring. Even without Claypool in the WR room, if the Steelers bring back JuJu Smith-Schuster, they will still have a top receiving group in the league. This is very much a win-now move, which is exactly the situation the Steelers are in, but it is still a very anti-Steeler move, meaning they don’t make moves like this often.
San Francisco 49ers: 7/10
Potential Trade Package: Jimmy Garoppolo, Brandon Aiyuk, 2021 1st (No. 12 overall), 2021 3rd, 2022 1st
To put it plainly, Jimmy G’s play since arriving in San Fran has been mediocre at best. Yes, he was the Quarterback for them when they went to the Super Bowl. But remind me, how many times did he throw for in the NFC Championship? Oh, that’s right, nine. Nine times he threw the ball in the SECOND MOST IMPORTANT game of the season. That should say enough about what they think of Jimmy G. With Watson and a healthy team, I think that the Niners could be back to the Super Bowl. The only reason they aren’t higher on the scale, is that I am an advocate of Jimmy G back to the Patriots, but don’t count out San Fran from making a move on Watson if it is possible.
Seattle Seahawks: 2/10
I toyed with the idea of swapping Watson for Russell Wilson and a pick. Swap my problem for your problem kind of deal? But those never work out for anyone. Plus, neither player really moves to a better situation or worse situation, in my opinion. It would be a null-null trade, as there isn’t really a clear winner or loser.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 0.5/10
Tom Brady just walked in to Tampa Bay and decided to go back to 2009 and dominate the league again to win his seventh Super Bowl, he’s not getting replaced. The only way Tampa Bay makes a trade here, is to get a QB for the next 10 years instead of keeping Brady for the next two to four.
Tennessee Titans: 1/10
The Titans are not a pass-first offense, most of the yards will come from Derrick Henry, and when they do pass on a play-action or something else, they don’t push it down field too much. If Watson is coming into your system, you are going to want it to revolve around him. Ryan Tannehill is perfect for the Titans offense, and it wouldn’t make sense to let him go after what he has done for the team since he took over the starting job. If that wasn’t enough, there is no way the Texans are trading Watson in division, to the team that won the division last year.
The Washington Football Team: 8/10
Potential Trade Package: Montez Sweat, Kendall Fuller, J.D. McKissic, 2021 1st (No. 19 overall)
Alex Smith’s comeback story is the greatest in all of sports, but unfortunately, he is not a long-term answer for Washington. Washington’s defense was one of the best in the league, and they have several pieces to offer up to Houston. Sweat is young enough to provide a long-term replacement for J.J. Watt, who was released this past month, and Fuller provides a veteran presence in the secondary, as well as a true number one Corner. McKissic showed off his talent this year, as he was one of the most productive backs in the league, on the ground or in the air. This will jumpstart Houston’s rebuild in a big way, and provide Washington with a stud QB to potentially have a deeper playoff run next year than what they had this season.