Deshaun Watson seemingly wants out of Houston. Could the New York Jets provide the Texans with a haul for the superstar quarterback?
A 2020 campaign that encompassed just four wins for the Texans; below-average decision-making at the hands of former head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien; a claim from former Texans legend Andre Johnson that “nothing good has happened in/for the organization” since team executive Jack Easterby commenced his tenure.
Amid it all, superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson seemingly wants out of Houston, and according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the belief is that he won’t be donning the blue and red Texans uniform next season.
There is a growing sense from people in and around the Texans’ organization that Deshaun Watson has played his last snap for the team. It’s early in the off-season, there’s a lot of time left, but Watson’s feelings cannot and should not be underestimated.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2021
With the offseason beginning for the majority of NFL teams, so do the discussions regarding Watson’s future. Where would he take his talents to in 2021? What would be the Texans’ asking price should trade talks actually begin? Which teams would be interested?
We essentially have a “rough draft” of a list for the latter-most question. The Dolphins could be in play and so may the Washington Football Team. Maybe Bill Belichick makes a move to improve a Patriots team that won just seven games this past year.
But what about the New York Jets? Despite the fact that Sam Darnold would be in a beneficial system under expected new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, the Jets could indeed possess the opportunity to bring Watson to the East Coast.
So what would Gang Green need to send away to pull off such a move?
The general feeling is that it would actually take a trio of first-round draft picks to acquire Watson. Sure, you may be asking yourself: three? But take it all into consideration: in the midst of dysfunctionality in and around the Texans organization while playing with a poor offensive line and no DeAndre Hopkins (who was traded to Arizona last offseason), Watson still led the league with 4,823 passing yards and 8.9 yards per attempt and completed 70.2% of his throws for 33 touchdowns and just seven picks in 2020.
It’d be a noteworthy haul, but the Jets own that type of haul that could lead to the Texans giving them the “thumbs up.”
New York would probably need to provide Houston with its two first-round picks in 2021 (No. 2 and 23 overall) along with next year’s first-round selection for Watson. Oh, and Darnold would additionally head to the Texans as well.
What would be the true value of the Jets receiving Watson?
Well, it’s self-explanatory. They’d be acquiring one of the top quarterbacks in the league who garnered each of the aforementioned fantastic numbers despite the situation he was in this past season. Watson is someone who’d also play hard for his new head coach, Robert Saleh. To be honest, who wouldn’t?
Watson would additionally, as mentioned before, likely play under Mike LaFleur, who Saleh is expected to hire as the offensive coordinator. LaFleur is currently the 49ers passing game coordinator — he and San Fran head coach Kyle Shanahan ran a successful passing attack that was 12th in yards per game despite fielding Nick Mullens, Jimmy Garoppolo, and C.J. Beathard at quarterback.
If LaFleur brings over elements of that Shanahan-run offense to Florham Park (which he absolutely should), think of the success he could experience with a guy like Watson. Think of the success Watson would find playing under that type of system.
Not to mention, the Jets employ a number of young offensive weapons, such as receiver Denzel Mims and running back La’Mical Perine. Watson/LaFleur would help these hopeful playmakers develop much more efficiently than Darnold/Adam Gase ever did. No question about it.
But good trades must profit both teams involved. So how would the Texans benefit from their potential haul?
It’s clear Houston needs to undergo a rebuild. The Texans are coming off a four-win season and, in this scenario, would be losing their superstar quarterback who’s undeniably their top player.
The best way to successfully pull off such a move would be to garner early draft picks in order to develop from the ground up; three of such selections from the Jets would greatly assist in the process. The picks would additionally help Darnold develop, which is something they’d need to eventually accomplish in the event a trade is made.
At No. 2, the Texans may snag a receiver or offensive lineman — either position group could use some help — in order to build with Darnold. In the back half of the first round (No. 23 overall), the Texans could then bolster either the one unit they didn’t previously address out of the aforementioned two or a weak front seven that was last in run defense in 2020 (160.3 rushing yards allowed per game).
The third first-round pick received, another selection that would help them rebuild for the post-Watson era, would come in 2022 and pair with Houston’s original 2022 first-round pick. Thus, the Texans would own four first-round selections over the next two drafts instead of their current one (original 2022 first-round choice).
Darnold, while not having met or exceeded expectations yet, also carries great potential. Don’t forget, the former No. 3 overall pick of 2018 hasn’t exactly been blessed with either head-coaching situation he’s been a part of — Todd Bowles then Adam Gase.
With the right coaching, development, and structure, Darnold could greatly improve. The Texans just need to make the right choice with their soon-to-be new head coach and then utilize their then-new draft picks correctly.
Listen, it’s understandable that you shouldn’t give up picks if you need to develop as a team. But Watson and LaFleur? With young weapons and a (hopefully) developing offensive line led by emerging left tackle Mekhi Becton?
The Jets would be losing highly significant draft ammo, however the idea of Watson coming to Florham Park is intriguing and one that could be considered in the near future.