Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston even more than JJ Watt did. While the Houston Texans are holding firm about not trading their superstar quarterback, teams keep calling. With the 25-year-old willing to go great lengths to force a blockbuster deal, he might also know where he wants to play next season.
After signing a lucrative contract extension last offseason, Watson doesn’t have a ton of leverage. If he is willing to sit out training camp, new rules in the CBA means he will be fined each day. In the event he decides to sit out the 2021 NFL season, the Texans will withhold his salary and can demand he pay back a significant portion of his signing bonus.
For now, the Texans won’t engage in trade discussions. However, tension is building in Houston and releasing Watt won’t help matters. If Watson is willing to force the issue, which seems likely, it might only be a matter of time before the Texans relent. While plenty of teams will pursue a blockbuster deal, Watson may already have his preferred landing spots.
Deshaun Watson seeks trade to Miami Dolphins, San Francisco 49ers
According to NFL reporter Tyler Dunne, who profiled the current situation, Watson reportedly has two teams atop his wish list for a trade. The 25-year-old would reportedly love to either play for the San Francisco 49ers or Miami Dolphins.
Both teams would be ideal landing spots for the star quarterback. Watson’s first priority for approving a trade is being sent to a team that can win. After putting MVP-caliber numbers in a four-win campaign this past year with the Texans, he is focused on competing for a Super Bowl. Given Houston is launching into a rebuild, that’s something his current team can’t offer.
Miami certainly has the draft capital to meet Houston’s asking price. The Dolphins could package the No. 3 overall pick, acquired from the Houston Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade, along with the No. 18 overall pick and a 2022 first-round pick. The Dolphins would also send Tua Tagovailoa, giving Houston a potential franchise quarterback to build around.
The Dolphins already have an excellent defense, one capable of making the playoffs. Adding an elite quarterback and then surrounding him with a few more weapons would give Miami a shot at competing for the Super Bowl next season.
Watson might be an even better fit for the 49ers. He’d be the perfect quarterback for Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, opening up this offense in ways we haven’t seen before. San Francisco would immediately give him a stellar group of weapons thanks to tight end George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne.
The 49ers could package Jimmy Garoppolo with three first-round picks and future Day 2 selections. Suddenly, the team that dominated the NFC just two years ago would have an MVP-caliber quarterback leading an electrifying offense, complemented by a strong defense.
If the Texans relent to his trade demand, Watson will really hold the cards. With a no-trade clause, he can dictate which team he would play for next season.
Houston can keep trying to salvage its relationship with Deshaun Watson, convincing itself that these issues can be fixed. Given he isn’t answering the organization’s phone calls and recent moves might be causing an even greater divide, it seems unlikely that a few conversations will fix this. It might take a few more months, but a blockbuster trade still feels inevitable.