The inevitable has happened. Deshaun Watson has requested a trade away from the Houston Texans.
This isn’t a surprise. Watson was reportedly unhappy with the Texans this offseason and has lost trust in the organization. As such, the 25-year-old quarterback will be the hottest commodity on the trade market, as there simply aren’t many starting quarterbacks that become available in the NFL, let alone potential franchise quarterbacks.
Watson will fetch a high price for interested bidders, and it seems like one that the Washington Football Team will have trouble paying. They may be willing to sacrifice assets to get him, but armed with the 19th pick, they’ll have trouble matching the offers of some other teams that are picking higher, like the New York Jets (Nos. 2 and 23 picks in 2021) and Miami Dolphins (Nos. 3 and 18 picks in 2021).
However, that’s not to say that Washington can’t benefit from a Watson trade. They should be interested in him, but even if they don’t land Watson, they’ll have a chance to improve their team as a result of a potential move.
How Washington Football Team can benefit from a Deshaun Watson trade
Basically, it all boils down to this. If either the Dolphins or the Jets trade for Watson, they are going to have to rehome the young quarterbacks on their respective rosters, Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold. Yes, either could be involved in a trade with the Texans, but it seems more likely that Houston would prefer picks over these quarterbacks.
Because the 2021 NFL Draft is stacked at quarterback, they will be armed to select a quarterback of their choosing in the top three if they trade with the Jets or Dolphins. This could be Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, or maybe even Trey Lance. If the team does select one of these players, they would probably prefer starting them over a quarterback like Tagovailoa or Darnold.
That’s where Washington would come in. They could pick up either of those young quarterbacks on the cheap if Watson lands with the Dolphins or Jets. Both teams would need to replenish their stock of draft picks if they trade for Watson, so trading Tagovailoa for a second-round pick, the price it cost the Dolphins to acquire Josh Rosen just a year after he was a top-10 pick, would be sensible for Washington and Miami. And a deal sending a mid-round pick to the Jets for Darnold may make sense for Washington as well.
Either way, these two, cheap quarterbacks would allow Washington a chance to spend bigger on other areas of their roster while letting their newly-acquired quarterback compete with the likes of Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke for playing time. It would also protect the team in case they can’t land any of the top-five quarterbacks in the draft or any of the veterans available via trade.
So, Washington should remain vigilant on that market. Elsewhere, they could also try to pick off some other assets from Houston as they head for a full-fledged rebuild.
In particular, Houston has strong receivers, so if the Texans don’t see Brandin Cooks as a fit for their roster on a $12 million deal, Washington could try to trade for him. Or Washington could opt to target Will Fuller in free agency in the hopes that the Texans will let him walk and invest in younger receivers. That’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
Finally, it’s also worth noting that Watson’s presence on the trade market makes him the top quarterback available via trade. That could distract some teams that might otherwise be involved in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes and make them a little trigger-shy as they negotiate.
Granted, that doesn’t mean that Washington will be the front-runners for Stafford. Nor does it mean a team would let Stafford slip through their fingers and bank on acquiring Watson, but it is a factor to consider, at the very least, considering that Stafford would be a great fit in Washington.
We’ll soon see where Watson ends up playing in 2021 and beyond, but his no-trade clause gives him full control of the situation. No matter what happens though, Washington could stand to benefit from a trade. It just depends on when it happens and which teams are involved in the bidding war.