After signing a 4-year, $156M extension, the Texans and Deshaun looked towards avenging their 2019 AFC division playoff loss.
Having his sights on a long and prosperous relationship together, the emotional Pro Bowl QB related in September 2020:
“I’m lost for words, honestly. Been crying a little bit. A lot of bit, really. It’s just an amazing moment for me. The money is amazing. It’s life-changing. It’s great. But the biggest thing is for the [Texans] to just trust in me and believe in me that I’m their guy. I’m their quarterback is the biggest thing that really touches me.”
How quickly do emotions change in just five short months and after missing the playoffs with a 4-12 record.
Firstly, Watson and Texans new GM Nick Caserio have not spoken since his recent hiring.
As a result, Caserio stated to reporters in an interview on January 8:
“I think the most important thing for us is just to speak specifically to Deshaun.”
Secondly, after losing to the Tennessee Titans in their final game of the season, Deshaun openly expressed his frustrations:
“We just need a whole culture shift, we just need new energy, we just need discipline, we need structure. We need a leader so we can follow that leader as players. That’s what we need.”
Finally, one day after Caserio hired Baltimore Ravens David Culley as their head coach, Watson officially asked for a trade.
Deshaun Watson officially has requested a trade from the Houston Texans, per league sources. He actually did it weeks ago. Their new head-coaching hire, David Culley, has not and will not alter Watson’s thinking.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 28, 2021
Houston, we have a problem.
The decisions now facing the Texans top brass is to trade Deshaun, fine him if he holds out, or wait.
The #Texans’ options with Deshaun Watson:
1. Trade him, carry a $21.6 million dead cap hit in 2021 and find a new QB.
2. Do nothing for now, then start fining him and pursue bonus money if he doesn’t show up.
No reason to rush, other than bad press. The offers will come.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 28, 2021
Because Deshaun’s 2021 cap hit is estimated at only $15.9M, teams are lining up to seal a deal with Houston.
Since Watson has epic market value, it makes sense for Houston to cash in their chips, rather than force the issue.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 28, 2021
With more than half the league showing interest, the race to recruit the most dynamic QB in the NFL has begun.
Considering Denver and Carolina as possible suitors also, the following three teams are ideal spots for Deshaun Watson in 2021.
3. San Francisco 49ers
Deshaun Watson’s no-trade clause in his contract makes the “City-by-the-Bay” a Hail Mary play for the Clemson alum.
However, if Watson and Caserio agree to waive the clause, then the 49ers have an outside shot at the superstar.
Of the three options, San Francisco has the least assets to work with but presents the most potential for Deshaun.
Estimated at $12.5M, the 49ers have the smallest amount of cap space to work with securing a deal for Watson.
Although my 11-year-old son says he wouldn’t accept anything less than four first rounders for Deshaun, the 49ers can still make it work.
With the 12th overall pick this year, San Francisco could offer three first round draft picks (2021-2023), a second round (2021), and send Jimmy Garoppolo to Houston.
Even though Garoppolo is 29 years old and has $48.3M remaining on his two-year contract, Caserio and new GM Jack Easterby can rebuild with the multitude of picks.
In return, the prolific fourth-year QB would make last year’s NFC Division Champions an instant Super Bowl contender in 2021.
If 49ers GM John Lynch is serious about returning to Super Bowl LVI, then San Francisco needs to go all-in.
2. Miami Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins bring a lot more bargaining chips to the table with immediate returns for the Texans.
Not to mention with an estimated cap space of $25.8M, Miami has an abundance of high draft picks to dangle at Houston.
Dolphins GM Chris Grier and coach Brian Flores also have trade history with Houston, sending Pro Bowl Laremy Tunsil to Texas in 2019.
Miami is sitting on the number three and 18 overall first round draft picks this year.
Grier could offer two first round draft picks and one second round pick (50) in 2021 (returning Houston’s third overall), and a first round pick in 2022.
In addition, Deshaun made it clear of his love for Miami and desire to play there, knowing the Dolphins could be a playoff contender.
1. New York Jets
At the top of the list where Deshaun Watson could possibly land is with the New York Jets.
The Jets rise above all others as the most obvious trade partner for Houston in terms of draft picks and capital.
Having what seems like an infinite amount of money, New York has $65.5M of cap space to work with.
They also have the number two and 23rd (from Seattle) overall first round draft picks on April 29, 2021.
Jets GM Joe Douglas could offer two first round draft picks and one second round pick (34) all in 2021, and a first round pick in 2022.
Deshaun’s publicist and close friend Bryan Burney, who he hangs out with quite often, also lives in the Big Apple.
With all that said, Joe Douglas’ ace-in-the-hole bargaining chip is his new head coach Robert Saleh.
Watson lobbied for Houston to interview Saleh as head coach and voiced his desire to follow him to New York.
The ball is spotted between the hashes on the five yard-line.
It is now up to the New York Jets to send it down the middle and make the chip-shot.