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The Houston Texans are “still open to trading” superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson in advance of the 2021 NFL season, according to ESPN’s Dianna Russini (h/t Bleacher Report).
Watson is still waiting for the legal process to play out for numerous civil suits filed against him for alleged sexual misconduct. Until all that is resolved, it’s difficult to envision a trade getting done.
However, based on the latest buzz coming out of Houston, it sounds like the Texans haven’t given up in their efforts to move the NFL’s reigning passing champion. Either teams are still negotiation with Houston, or the Texans leaked this latest information to let prospective suitors know they’re still open for business.
One team Watson reportedly wants to play for is the Denver Broncos, which is a most obvious landing spot. The fact that Aaron Rodgers continues to hold out in hopes of a trade from the Green Bay Packers complicates the Watson situation and limits his landing spots.
But let’s take a look at a few destinations for Watson that aren’t being talked about as much, yet would make sense.
Deshaun Watson to Las Vegas Raiders
It’s rather surprising that the Raiders aren’t discussed more as a landing spot for Watson. They aren’t exactly in the running for any Citizenship Award superlatives based on their decision to still employ Richie Incognito, and their prior chances taken on Vontaze Burfict and Antonio Brown.
To be clear, we don’t know the full truth of the allegations about Watson, but nevertheless, Las Vegas has a recent history of risky personnel moves where off-field question marks are present.
No matter what the Raiders say publicly, too, they just don’t seem that invested in Derek Carr. It’s as if head coach Jon Gruden is always looking for someone better despite Carr’s continued high level of play.
How amazing would it be to see Carr go to the franchise in Houston where his brother, David, was the No. 1 overall pick? If this Carr can drive the Texans back to prominence amid what looks like a particularly dark era, that’d be an NFL storyline for the ages.
As for Watson, provided he’s cleared of wrongdoing or is disciplined in the appropriate manner and does what he need to do in that regard, he’d give the Raiders much more juice and excitement into the future than Carr would be able to provide.
Deshaun Watson to Atlanta Falcons
To springboard off that point about Carr’s family ties to Houston, this scenario would be an actual homecoming for Watson. He’s a Georgia native, and it’d make sense for the Falcons to look to the future at QB with Matt Ryan entering his age-36 season.
Ryan still has something left in the tank, and with Watson’s future up in the air, this move would make more sense than you’d think at first. If Watson faces some sort of disciplinary action from the NFL — at this point, that seems likely — he’d have to be suspended.
Here’s the thing about Watson being traded right now: The Texans would take on $5.4 million of his cap hit, leaving just $10.54 million for 2021. Atlanta just got rid of Julio Jones’ big contract, and would have enough room to take Watson on.
Now, the Falcons would need to move some contracts around in 2022 and also need to bear in mind their probably monster extension for wide receiver Calvin Ridley. That said, next offseason seems like the ideal time to move off Ryan, which would go a long way in helping Atlanta’s cap woes.
Watson’s deal could be restructured as well, kicking the can so to speak to 2023. That’d set the Falcons up nicely for the future under center after they passed on a QB in favor of Kyle Pitts in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Deshaun Watson to New York Giants
Yes, the Giants seem to be in on Daniel Jones at least for this season, yet if the opportunity arose to acquire Watson, they’d be hard-pressed to pass it up.
Watson would get the chance to go to the biggest market and is an obvious, instant upgrade over Jones, who’s flashed potential but has struggled with turnover problems throughout his first two seasons. The Duke product is an appealing trade chip New York could kick in as part of a potential trade.
Things are a little more complicated for the G-Men from a salary cap perspective. They could use veterans like tight end Evan Engram and safety Jabrill Peppers as part of a trade package if they wanted to retain more draft picks.
In fact, two starters of that caliber and one draft pick might be enough for New York to land Watson given the circumstances currently surrounding him.
General manager Dave Gettleman probably wants to see everything through with Jones in 2021, but you never know. If the Watson situation becomes clearer and he actually has a chance to play this year, why wouldn’t the Giants at least try to make this move? They’d instantly be favorites in the NFC East if they did.