My position on the DeShaun Watson situation has not changed since his desires have gone public. Unless you can rationally come to the conclusion that he has a “fatal flaw” or you are firmly convinced that your team will be substantially better, I do not think you could ever trade away a franchise QB under the age of 30. Hear me out.
I think we can all agree that Watson’s skill set would fit any style of offense and most coaches would love to have him on their team. He has great character, is a team and community leader, and he is the face of your franchise. Therefore, I don’t see any fatal flaws.
The only thing that gives me any pause at all going forward is Watson’s durability/health. At 6020 215 pounds, he is not the biggest guy in the world and his recklessness to make every play on every down definitely puts his slightly below average frame in some precarious positions. Frankly, he reminds me of a childhood toy — Gumby.
In 2014 while at Clemson, Watson broke his right hand and later that year suffered a strained LCL. Both injuries required him to miss multiple games. It was later revealed that he had a torn ACL in his left knee and had played on it that year, requiring post-season surgery. Also, still at Clemson in 2016, Watson missed two games with a shoulder injury. Once in the pros, he tore the ACL in his right knee in practice in 2017, his rookie season in Houston. In 2018, he played thru broken ribs and a partially collapsed lung. This is not a criticism, but I’m just saying, his style might need to be altered a bit in order to stay on the field.
Taking all of this into account and before we make any final decisions, the question that remains is, can the Texans get better as a franchise without him? Its subjective reasoning at best but to be honest, that’s all scouting and evaluating is.
Its professional evaluators opinions based on review with some facts (numbers) mixed in. To make the final decision, we need to take emotion out of it and use a systematic process. Every team has a three- or four-person pro scouting department. This area exists to evaluate, rate and rank all the other talent that is currently playing in the NFL or have played recently with any relevance over the last couple of years. The pro scouting department should have a grade or ranking of every starting QB in the NFL.
For the sake of this exercise, I will use Muellerfootball.com as my “Pro Scouting Department”. I have ranked the top 10 under-age 33 QB’s in my blog earlier this fall. I ranked Watson fifth with the four players above him being, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Justin Herbert and Russell Wilson in that order.
Remember, our goal is the GET BETTER. So, the next question is can we get one of those four, currently above Watson on my list, as part of a return if we trade him? Unlikely, in my opinion. Those four QBs I have ranked ahead of him are fixtures who are going nowhere. Remember, Watson is ranked fifth on my list. Right behind him is Trevor Lawrence (the presumed first pick in this year’s draft) and then I have Dak Prescott (may or may not be a free agent) at No. 7, Joe Burrow is eighth (last year’s first pick in the draft) and No. 9 on my list and in your program, is
Matthew Stafford (who is currently available for trade with the Detroit Lions).
I’m not interested in Sam Darnold or Tua Tagovailoa so forget all the media hype around the New York Jets and Miami Dolphins being the best places to work a trade. Neither of those QB’s made my (the pro scouting department) top 10 at the position and a dip below that top 10 defeats the purpose of trying to get better. If I were the Texans, I would not consider trading him for only a package of draft picks either. Your giving up a proven commodity.
Sure, teams will and probably do have their own version of the top 10 in a different order however, I would bet you a Starbucks the QB rankings on their lists are closer to mine than you might think.
I’m not willing to consider, as part of a return in a Watson trade, any QB from further down the list, or outside the top 10. And to be in that top 10, they have to be able to give you five solid years so age is a factor.
If I make the determination that Watson will never be willing to play for us again or his long-term durability is in question, then this exercise leads me to these choices when I’m looking for direction with this trade. I don’t think another team would need to offer as many as three first rounders nor should the Texans demand that. Houston needs a surefire QB as part of the deal. Plain and simple. The following scenarios would give them that:
1. I’m taking the Jacksonville Jaguars’ first round pick, the first pick in the draft (Trevor Lawrence), and another high pick in the deal (maybe it’s a third-round pick this year or the Jaguars’ second-round pick next year). Watson is proven at the NFL level, Lawrence is not.
2. I’d take Dallas Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, plus more. Let me have maybe a second- or third-round pick in addition (Dak is not signed and would have to sign an extension as part of the deal). Remember, we have him rated behind Watson but in our top 10, so we need more value.
3. I’ll also take Detroit Lions QB Matt Stafford (who will be 33 by next season) and their No. 1 pick, which is the seventh overall choice this year, along with a conditional second-round pick of the Lions in 2022. That pick becomes a first-round selection if Stafford takes Houston to the conference championship game or if he signs a contract extension.
Even though DeShaun has the, no trade clause in his contact (which Houston should have never done) the club still has leverage. They do not have to trade the guy, at all. If he does not agree to the trade, his options are to sit out/withhold services or retire. A holdout would cost him millions of dollars in fines and if he retires he will have to payback millions in signing bonus he received last fall. Neither are really a solid financial move. NFL players do not have the same leverage as NBA players due to the collective bargaining agreement.
It’s easy to say 25 teams would want DeShaun Watson. It is not quite as easy to define what the Texans would want in return. I’m interested in peoples thoughts. Hit me up on Twitter @randymueller_