Texans bigwigs Cal McNair and Nick Caserio have insisted they intend to retain Deshaun Watson, but the quarterback continues to seek a Houston exit. With J.J. Watt now gone, the four-year quarterback now stands as the unquestioned Texans cornerstone player.
But potential destinations for the passer with the no-trade clause are surfacing. Watson is intrigued by the Broncos and 49ers, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com indicating (video link) both franchises are on the standout passer’s list of teams he would agree to join via trade.
Former Texans teammate Kareem Jackson confirmed he and Watson had multiple discussions about Denver as a landing spot, and 9News’ Mike Klis also notes the Broncos have garnered appeal with the disgruntled quarterback (Twitter link). The Broncos were in the mix for Matthew Stafford, but they were not one of the teams mentioned as offering their first-round pick (No. 9 overall) for him. Carolina and Washington were believed to have done so. The Panthers are expected to make an aggressive Watson pursuit.
New Broncos GM George Paton came from a Vikings team that built its most recent playoff nuclei through the draft, and he balked at including members of his new team’s young core in a deal with the Lions. But the Paton-Rick Spielman-era Vikings also made splashy moves for QBs Brett Favre and Kirk Cousins. The Broncos have a host of young skill-position players — wideouts Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler and tight end Noah Fant — but have lacked a true answer at quarterback for five years. And they cannot match the Jets and Dolphins for draft capital. Miami and New York have three and four first-round picks through 2022, respectively.
The 49ers, who hold pick No. 12 overall, also inquired on Stafford — to the point the quarterback believed he could legitimately be heading to San Francisco. They also house young skill talent, in George Kittle, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. While Kyle Shanahan indicated previously that Jimmy Garoppolo was on track to return as the 49ers’ starter, the team investigating Stafford certainly points to the pursuit of potential upgrades.
As for the original suitors connected to Watson, Fowler notes the Dolphins appear ahead of the Jets as a destination for the three-time Pro Bowler. The Jets were once reported to be ahead of the Dolphins in a trade pursuit that has not technically begun, but New York does not appear to be especially high on the quarterback’s list. The Dolphins do not have the skill groups (as of now) the Broncos and 49ers do, but hold the Nos. 3 and 18 picks in this draft and hold two second-round picks this year as well. All of this said, Watson is not expected to be veto-happy when it comes to potential trades.
Watson’s prospective destination list does not seem to matter at this point, though, with Fowler noting other teams view Caserio as entrenched on keeping him. Watson’s $39MM-per-year contract runs through 2025.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.