Right now, we take the little wins in Houston sports. Michael Brantley was kind enough to reverse course on what appeared to be his signing a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, and he decided to return to the Astros. It had been a while since we experienced a personnel win like that. More star athletes are leaving than coming to Houston right now. We will take it.
For now, though, we still wait on Deshaun Watson. The Texans' quarterback has not publicly requested a trade, but there's enough smoke out there to, at the very least, stress us all out over the future of the franchise — the literal franchise and the figurative "FRANCHISE," which is Deshaun. The only indicators we get right now are Deshaun's teammates weighing in:
Not happening tho— Tytus Howard (@levelstothis_2) January 20, 2021
So to be on the safe and informed side, let's assume that a trade is still, sadly and depressingly, in play. Most of the trade speculation paints a picture of about two dozen NFL teams lined up at a Sotheby's style auction, ready to shower the Texans with high draft picks, star players, and a willingness to take out the Texans' trash (like Whitney Mercilus' or Randall Cobb's contracts). Well, that's only a partially accurate representation of how the market will unfold.
Here are three things you need to remember in Deshaun trade speculation, if indeed the team puts him out there:
1. We aren’t talking enough about Watson's “no trade clause”
When you read hypothetical trade offers from national media members, or see local media from other NFL cities tweeting about "Could [FILL IN NAME OF LOCAL NFL TEAM HERE] trade for Deshaun Watson?", the first question that must be answered is "Does Deshaun Watson want to play there? Watson is one of about a dozen or so NFL players that has a "no trade" clause in his contract, meaning that he must approve any trade in which he is involved. If the Texans get offered an incredible deal by, say, Detroit, and Deshaun doesn't want to go to Detroit (and who could blame him?), then he can just nix the deal. Keep this in mind before reading any mock trades.
2. The key will be getting multiple teams THAT DESHAUN LIKES involved
Because of that dynamic, the no trade clause makes it almost impossible for the Texans to “max out” their return, IF Watson is hellbent on ONE particular team. For example, the Miami Dolphins have been specifically mentioned as a place to which Watson would accept a trade. If Miami is, far and away, the place Watson wanted to go to, and he would reject every other destination except Miami, then it would stand to reason that Miami might get away with the Texans being in a resigned "well, let's get what we can get" frame of mind. So the key will be Watson being equally enamored with as many places as possible so that the Texans can max out that market. In theory, it's not 20 or more teams going after Watson. It's the number of teams Watson will accept as a new employer, AND who need a star quarterback, which is probably, I'm guessing, around ten teams, tops. Probably fewer.
3. If a deal doesn't get done before the 2021 NFL Draft, it might be a while
One of the criteria of any trade package SHOULD be getting a high draft pick in return, preferably a top five, or at worst, a top ten pick. Well, the only way the Texans can KNOW where a first round pick will fall in a particular draft is by making sure they trade Watson before the 2021 draft, AND get a top 2021 pick in return. Among the teams picking in the top ten who could be on the short list of Watson-approved destinations are the Jets (2nd overall), Dolphins (3rd overall, the Texans' pick from the Tunsil trade), Falcons (4th), and Panthers (8th). If a deal doesn't get done before the 2021 draft, then any deal involving Watson before the 2021 regular season started would mean that further first round picks for their trade partner would be decided by a team with Watson as the quarterback. In other words, these are probably going to be picks in the back end of the first round, not in the top ten. So if Watson is still ghosting the team in April, and the draft comes and goes without a deal, this could go on for a REALLY long time.
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