Deshaun Watson

Latest On Chiefs’ Extensions

Although the Rams once cut Kurt Warner less than three years after he won the second of his two MVP awards, the notion of the Chiefs releasing Patrick Mahomes down the road sounds insane. But the contract categorized by some as team-friendly offers Mahomes extensive protection against a release for the foreseeable future.

The 10-year, $450MM deal — which ties Mahomes to the Chiefs through 2031 — contains lucrative buyout numbers, with Albert Breer of SI.com relaying that even as late as 2024, it would cost the Chiefs an astounding $78.4MM to get out of the contract. A year later, the buyout number still comes in north of $40MM — at $41.95MM, per Breer.

While Mahomes’ record re-up does not lead the league in fully guaranteed money, these buyout numbers and the roster bonus structure do not put the 24-year-old superstar in much danger of missing out on money owed — as long as he’s attached to this extension.

Mahomes may have set the market, but Ian Rapoport notes that Deshaun Watson is expected to seek a shorter-term deal in order to maximize his value (video link). A four-year deal would give the Texans quarterback a good chance to sign another extension before he turns 30. Although Mahomes’ contract features unprecedented security on the back end of his deal, Joel Corry of CBS Sports envisions the lower-end (by franchise-QB standards) payouts early in the contract will not make other passers want to sign similarly structured extensions. Both Jared Goff ($84MM) and Carson Wentz ($81MM) will out-earn Mahomes ($63MM) over the first three years of their respective deals.

Mahomes’ 10-year agreement undoubtedly helped the Chiefs extend Chris Jones on Tuesday. Kansas City’s dominant defensive tackle signed a four-year, $80MM pact, with negotiations ramping up after Mahomes’ deal was finalized. Jones received $37.6MM fully guaranteed; that will be due by March 2021. Through two years of the deal, Jones will have pocketed $55.75MM, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. The $5MM in incentives are $1.25MM-per-year, sack-based escalators, Florio adds.

Kansas City became the first team to give two defensive linemen — Jones and Frank Clark — $20MM-AAV deals. Of the Chiefs’ three $20MM-per-year players, Jones was the only one to negotiate a four-year contract. This would make him eligible to hit the market before he turns 30.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Latest On Texans, Deshaun Watson

The Texans are still in the “extremely preliminary” stage of talks with Deshaun Watson, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle. Things are still on track and positive, sources say, but there’s no rush on either side. 

For a while, we’ve heard that Watson could land a deal worth roughly $40MM per year. Not long ago, that was the jaw-dropping projection for Patrick Mahomes. If Watson signs his deal before Mahomes, buckle up – the KC star could command something closer to the $50MM/year mark, plus potential clauses that would change the business, such as salary cap escalators.

For now, Watson is set to make just $1.177MM in base salary for 2020. After watching Laremy Tunsil land a three-year, $66MM extension, he feels confident that his big payday is just around the corner.

It’s definitely good,” Watson said of the Texans’ willingness to take care fo their own. “It’s exciting for all of us. Only time will tell, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure it’s on the right track. We’re going to win a lot of games and championships while we continue to figure out that side of the business, too.”

If/when Watson inks his deal, it would be a surprise if he didn’t top Russell Wilson‘s league-leading $35MM AAV. If Watson, Mahomes, and Dak Prescott all sign new contracts in the next few months, Wilson could be No. 4 on the list by the time the season starts.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Notes: Saints, Texans, Colts

Taysom Hill is expected to be “the guy” at quarterback for the Saints whenever Drew Brees decides to retire, as Jay Glazer of The Athletic writes. Brees has already signed a post-career deal with NBC Sports, and the 2020 season may or may not be his final year in the NFL, so Hill could be in line to become New Orleans’ starter as soon as next year. The drawbacks on Hill are apparent: he’ll be 31 years old when the 2021 campaign gets underway, and he’s only attempted 13 passes over the course of his career. But the Saints have nothing but shower with him praise in addition to extending him on a two-year pact that includes nearly $17.5MM in guaranteed money and a $16.1MM cap charge in 2021. Per Glazer, New Orleans isn’t attempting a “smokescreen” — the club is comfortable will Hill under center if Brees hangs up his cleats.

Here’s more from the NFL’s two South divisions:

Deshaun Watson To Sign Extension Before Patrick Mahomes?

We heard back in January that the Texans would try to sign QB Deshaun Watson to an extension this offseason, and indeed, the two sides are in the preliminary stages of contract discussions. And according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com, some execs believe Watson will sign his new deal before Chiefs mega-star Patrick Mahomes signs his (Twitter link).

As both Watson and Mahomes were selected in the 2017 draft and have three years of service time under their belts, they are now eligible for extensions. The January report referenced above indicated that Watson wanted to sign his next contract after Mahomes so that he could try to trump it, but if what Fowler’s sources are saying is true, it seems as if the Texans are trying to prevent that from happening.

Per Fowler, Houston has more “urgency” to get something done with Watson, which makes sense if the team wants to avoid having to top a Mahomes deal. But it’s unclear if the Texans should really be worried about that. After all, as good as Watson is, Mahomes is otherworldly, so Watson’s desire to top a Mahomes deal and any Texans’ fears in that regard both seem a little misplaced. Plus, given that the salary cap may go down in the next several years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it would seem that the club has more bargaining power than it may have anticipated.

As it stands, it may make more sense for Mahomes’ camp to wait until his Houston counterpart puts pen to paper. Recent projections for Watson’s contract are in the $40MM-$42MM/year range, which exceeds the initial estimates on Mahomes’ deal. If Watson gets an extension of that size, it may not be too much of a stretch to see Mahomes push for $50MM per year, though the reigning Super Bowl MVP has previously indicated that he wants to keep the Chiefs’ core together.

One way or another, Watson and Mahomes aren’t going anywhere. But when the contracts will get done and how much they will be worth remain up in the air, and with Bill O’Brien involved in the Watson negotiations, those questions are tough to answer.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans Exercise Deshaun Watson’s Fifth-Year Option

Unsurprisingly, the Texans are committing to Deshaun Watson. Houston has picked up the fifth-year option on their franchise quarterback, reports ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter).

Watson is set to play the 2020 season on a $1.17MM base salary. Under the fifth-year option, his salary will be boosted to around $17.3MM in 2021.

This was an easy decision for the Texans, as the quarterback has emerged as an MVP contender. The 2017 12th-overall pick has started 31 games for Houston the past two year, connecting on 67.8-percent of his passes while averaging 4,008 passing yards, 26 touchdowns, and 10.5 interceptions. He’s also continued to be productive on the ground, rushing for 12 touchdowns between 2018 and 2019.

Most importantly, he’s led the Texans to a 21-10 record over the past two seasons. This has led to a pair of playoff appearances, where he’s gone 1-2.

We heard last week that the organization had kicked off “very preliminary” extension talks with the star quarterback, and the front office was focused on completing a deal by the start of the regular season. We previously heard that Watson was going to wait under Patrick Mahomes re-signed with the Chiefs before inking his own extension.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans, Deshaun Watson Have Discussed Extension

The Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson have begun “very preliminary” extension discussions, according to Ed Werder of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Houston would like to have a new deal in place for Watson by the start of the regular season.

Head coach/general manager Bill O’Brien already crossed one item of his to-do list earlier today by signing left tackle Laremy Tunsil to a record-breaking extension, and Watson is obviously the next Texans player in line for a fresh contract. Like Tunsil’s deal, Watson’s extension figures to reach extraordinary heights.

Russell Wilson currently leads all quarterbacks in annual value with a yearly salary of $35MM, and there’s no doubt Watson and his agent want to topple that mark. Of course, Patrick Mahomes could soon take over as the highest-paid quarterback, as the Chiefs are reportedly targeting a post-draft extension for the 2018 MVP.

There’s no argument to be made that Watson’s performance — as good as it’s been — should earn more than Mahomes, but during his short stint as the Texans’ top decision-maker, O’Brien has proven that anything is possible. Either way, dueling contract discussions between Mahomes and the Chiefs/Watson and the Texans should prove beneficial for both signal-callers and drive up the price tag for both players.

The Texans aren’t under any obligation to extend Watson’s contract immediately. Because Watson was a first-round pick in 2017, Houston holds a fifth-year option for the 2021 campaign. That option will surely be exercised, meaning the Texans control the 24-year-old’s rights for two more years. Still, it sound as though Houston may not want to wait much longer before locking in Watson for the long haul.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Texans To Try To Extend Deshaun Watson This Offseason

As members of the 2017 draft class, star quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes are both eligible for extensions after the 2019 season comes to a close. We recently heard that the Chiefs and Mahomes are expected to agree to a new contract in the coming months — a contract that could exceed $200MM in total value — but we have heard less about Watson.

Per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network (video link), the Texans will try to extend Watson this offseason, but Watson wants to wait until Mahomes has signed his new pact so that he can try to trump it. And because Kansas City does not want to reach an accord with Mahomes until a new CBA is in place, a new deal between Houston and Watson may not be consummated until the late spring or early summer months.

Of course, neither team has to negotiate new contracts with their signal-callers this year. Both players can be controlled through the 2021 season since both were first-round choices and are therefore subject to a fifth-year option. But it sounds like the Texans and Chiefs want to put pen to paper sooner rather than later, perhaps as a result of the ever-rising salary cap.

Watson, who was an MVP candidate for much of the year, finished the 2019 regular season with 3,852 passing yards, 26 TDs, 12 interceptions, and a 98.0 QB rating. He also rushed 82 times for 413 yards and seven scores, and he picked up a signature playoff win with the Texans’ comeback defeat of the Bills in last week’s wildcard matchup.

Watson’s Texans will visit Mahomes’ Chiefs in today’s divisional round bout, the winner of which will host the Titans in the AFC Championship Game.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC West Notes: Watson, Penny, 49ers

Current Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians, who enjoyed a strong run as the Cardinals‘ HC from 2013-17, nearly brought one of the league’s best quarterbacks to the desert prior to his final year in Arizona. Deshaun Watson was selected by the Texans with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 draft, and the Cardinals held the No. 13 overall pick that year. As Patrick D. Starr of SI.com writes, Arians was poised to nab Watson if he slipped one more spot.

It’s unclear whether the Cardinals tried to trade up to select Watson, but they ultimately took linebacker Haason Reddick with their choice. Of course, Arizona seems to have found its QB of the future in Kyler Murray. and who knows how things may have turned out if Watson ended up with the Cards, but it’s always fun to play the butterfly effect game when reports like this surface.

Now for more from the NFC West:

  • Seahawks RB Rashaad Penny is undergoing ACL surgery Friday morning, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. We recently heard that, in addition to an ACL tear, Penny may have sustained additional knee damage, but Schefter says the 2018 first-rounder is expected to be ready to go for the 2020 season.
  • The 49ers have sustained a number of injuries lately, but they will have CB Richard Sherman back this week. Though recent reports indicated that Sherman may not be back until the playoffs, Matt Barrows of The Athletic says the three-time First Team All-Pro will play in San Francisco’s matchup against the Rams on Saturday night (Twitter link). The Niners, of course, are trying to get back into one of the NFC’s top two seeds after a bad loss to the Falcons on Sunday dropped them to the fifth seed.
  • Speaking of Sherman, Field Yates of ESPN.com points out that the 31-year-old earned a league-high $1MM incentive by being named to this year’s Pro Bowl on the original ballot, and he also increased his 2020 base salary by $1MM (Twitter link). Sherman is currently under contract with the 49ers through the 2020 season.
  • 49ers LB Kwon Alexander, who was ruled out for the season in November with a torn pec, does have a chance to return at some point in the postseason, as Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area writes. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan conceded that the odds of that happening are slim, and it seems much more likely that the team will have to wait until next year to see Alexander back in action.

AFC Notes: Bills, Allen, Texans, Watson

The Bills began discussing the idea of taking a quarterback near the top of the 2018 draft all the way back in May 2017 when general manager Brandon Beane was hired, Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com.

It’s a quarterback league; you’ve either got one or you don’t,” Beane said. “And we were getting to know Tyrod and Tyrod brought a lot of good things for us, but we decided as the season moved on that we were probably going to go in a different direction, and at the same time we were still thinking, ‘OK, if Tyrod is our guy we’ll draft other things, and if not, we’ll be ready to move forward.’ And that planning really started in August with some of the moves we made, and to add the draft capital that we did.”

When it came time for the draft, the Bills managed to move up for Allen by sending their No. 12 pick and two second-round picks to the Bucs for the No. 7 choice. After that, the Bills doubted that they would be able to land Virginia Tech linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, who was another one of their top targets. Luckily for them, the Raiders opted to bolster their offensive line with the No. 15 pick, giving them an opportunity to trade up for Baltimore’s pick at No. 16.

We had tried to trade with Oakland … and they were like, ‘No, we’re taking the pick,‘” Beane said. “So I called [Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome] and we agreed to the terms while Oakland was still on the clock and he said, ‘Let me know if your guy is still there.’ So until I heard them say it was Kolton Miller you had to assume that they were taking Tremaine. And if they had we would have stayed pat at 22.”

The Bills are happy with how things turned out in the first round, but it may take a while before we see how this draft class pans out, particularly when it comes to Allen.

Here’s more from the AFC:

Extra Points: Browns, Johnson, Watson, Watt

Duke Johnson Jr. is staying in Cleveland for the foreseeable future. The running back signed a three-year extension with the organization today that will tack an additional $15.6MM ($7.7MM guaranteed) to his contract. While the 24-year-old is set to be with the organization until at least 2021, Johnson was more focused on his team’s potential in 2018.

“I’m excited,” Johnson told ClevelandBrowns.com. “It’s fun to see how this team is shaping out and I want to be a part of it. You can see it with the guys they brought in on offense like Tyrod (Taylor) and (Jarvis) Landry plus the guys we already had. I think bringing in coach (Todd) Haley adds another dimension to our offense and it gives coach (Hue) Jackson the chance to be the head coach. John Dorsey has been bringing in guys that can play, that can ball, and that gives us a chance. Now it’s about going out and doing it now.”

General manager John Dorsey also discussed the running back’s new deal.

“Duke Johnson is a good football player,” Dorsey said. “His hard work and commitment to the Browns organization is appreciated and we are excited to extend his contract and keep him in a Browns uniform for years to come. Duke is an excellent representative our organization. He leads by example and we look forward to him playing an important role with the Cleveland Browns moving forward.”

Let’s take a look at some other notes from around the NFL…

  • The Texans are looking like they’re going to head into the 2018 campaign healthy. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets that quarterback Deshaun Watson (ACL) and defensive end J.J. Watt (tibial plateau fracture) aren’t expected to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. The duo combined for only 12 games last season.
  • NFL executive vice president of business operations Eric Grubman will be stepping down from his role (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). The executive, who has been with the NFL for 14 years, played a major part in the Rams’ move to Los Angeles.“He has handled some of the most challenging and important issues to the NFL,” said Roger Goodell. While the commissioner tried to convince Grubman to stick around, the executive will join former COO Tod Leiwicke and former executive vice president of communications Joe Lockhart among those who have left high-ranking roles.
  • We learned earlier today that Broncos edge rusher Shane Ray is set to undergo wrist surgery, which will keep him out of action for three months.