By Ryan Carius ’21
Upon the completion of the Super Bowl, football fanatics have turned to trade rumors, the impending free agency period, and the NFL draft for sources of entertainment. On top of the list of trade rumors is Deshaun Watson, quarterback for the Houston Texans.
Although the Texans front office keeps downplaying rumors of a trade, Watson wants to depart after four years in Houston. Multiple NFL teams have expressed interest in trading for Watson, leaving fans on the edge of their seats wondering where the superstar will end up.
Any potential return for Watson in a trade will feature a tremendous haul of draft picks and possibly even players. In particular, the New York Jets are a very realistic buyer in the Watson sweepstakes. The Jets have an excess of draft picks, most notably the second overall draft pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. The Jets also hold the 23rd overall pick, a pick acquired from the Seattle Seahawks in exchange for All-Pro safety Jamal Adams. These two picks will almost surely be included if the Jets have any hopes of acquiring the superstar quarterback.
Another factor working in the Jets’ favor is the possibility of a Sam Darnold trade. It seems very likely that the Jets will draft or trade for another quarterback and settle for a second-round draft pick in exchange for Darnold, the former third-overall pick in the 2018 draft. With an additional draft pick received for Darnold, Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas would gain another pick that could be flipped for Watson.
Jets fans would certainly find it reassuring to acquire Watson via trade instead of drafting either Zach Wilson from Brigham Young University or Justin Fields from Ohio State University. It is almost certain that Trevor Lawrence of Clemson University will be off the board with the first overall pick. Lawrence, without question, would have been the best quarterback to draft if New York had the first pick. Now, with the second pick, the Jets’ office is in a similar situation as they were when they took Darnold in 2018.
While it would be unfair to rule out the possibility of Wilson or Fields becoming stars in the NFL one day, if the Jets have the chance to obtain Watson, they should not hesitate. Another factor to add to the uncertainty of the rookie quarterbacks is the cancelation of the NFL combine. General managers will not have the ability to assess potential draft picks, instead relying on their college film.
The Jets cannot afford to miss out on acquiring a culture-changing quarterback like Watson. If the Texans call, the Jets need to pick up the phone and get the deal done.
By Liam Tormey ’22
Sports Assistant Editor
The Houston Texans traded away star receiver DeAndre Hopkins last season to the Arizona Cardinals for running back David Johnson, as well as a second-round pick and a fourth-round pick. Long-time defensive cornerstone J.J. Watt recently asked to be released. Indeed, the Texans are in disarray, but they simply cannot afford to trade Deshaun Watson.
The franchise quarterback wants out of Houston and has said he does not want to play another snap for the organization. After he was not involved in the hiring of new general manager Nick Caserio, and after the Texans failed to hire Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy as head coach, Watson was frustrated.
Although a trade seems likely, there is strong reason to believe that Watson may still be part of the Texans organization when the season starts. After an interview with Caserio at the end of January,, Caserio stated, “We have zero interest in trading the player.”
Watson, who has a career 28-25 record with a 67.8 percent completion percentage, 104 touchdowns, 36 interceptions, and 269.2 yards per game, may not have much of a choice even if he wants out of Houston.
Over the course of recent years, it has become common for players within the NBA to ask for trades, putting their respective organizations in a difficult position. This phenomenon now blended over to the NFL, as is seen in the case of Watson and other star players recently like Jalen Ramsey and Antonio Brown.
However, it should not be this easy for players to demand a trade away from a team. Watson’s personal unhappiness should not require the Texans to trade him. He is still a part of the organization, and the Texans must do everything they can to keep such a talent.
In light of Houston’s salary cap situation, trading Deshaun Watson would most likely mean having to absorb $21.6 million in dead money over the course of the next several years, putting the Texans well over the cap limit. Of course, the Texans can restructure the rest of their roster, but trading Watson would put them at a major financial disadvantage.
Houston does have leverage over Watson. According to sports writer Adam Schefter, the Texans can fine Watson $95,877 for missing minicamp, $50,000 per day of training camp missed plus one week’s salary, and $620,000 for each preseason game missed. Finally, the Texans can collect the $21.6 million if Watson retires.
Yes, Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston, but no player is bigger than the organization itself. The Houston Texans need to make the right decision and not trade their superstar quarterback.