Sean Pendergast

Rating the Four Deshaun Watson Trade Suitors

Deshaun Watson's days as a Houston Texan are coming to an end soon, with a trade looming.
Deshaun Watson's days as a Houston Texan are coming to an end soon, with a trade looming. Photo by Eric Sauseda
On the one year anniversary of the first lawsuit against Deshaun Watson being made public, it would appear that we are on the cusp, finally, of Watson getting his wish — he is going to be traded to another NFL team. It's just a matter of which one.

Wielding a "no trade" clause in his mega-contract extension he signed in September of 2020, Watson has full control over where he goes. Veto power, if you will. Reportedly, Watson and the Texans are working together cordially for both sides to max out the situation. Ultimately, Watson will pick his next destination.

Which team should we be rooting for in this, from a Texans fan perspective? Well, let's examine this. Here are the four teams with whom Watson is taking meetings, with their draft capital listed (picks denoted by round and, in parentheses, overall draft slot), as well as young players on rookie contracts (year drafted in parentheses):

4. NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(18), 2(49), 3(100), 4(119,137), 5(161), 6(214), 7(235)
YOUNG PLAYERS: DE Payton Turner (2021), G Cesar Ruiz (2020), C Erik McCoy (2019), DE Marcus Davenport (2018)
Reportedly, the Saints are the leaders in the clubhouse right now to land Watson. Saints players are actively recruiting him to come play in Louisiana. Unfortunately, for the Texans, the Saints have the 18th selection in the draft as their best asset to offer, so they would likely need to come up with more draft capital than the other bidders. Also, the Saints' best young players are on the offensive line, and I doubt they plan on dismantling their offensive line while bringing in Watson.

3. CLEVELAND BROWNS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(13), 2(44), 3(78,98), 4(106,117), 6(201), 7(221)
YOUNG PLAYERS: CB Greg Newsome (2021), LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (2021), T Jedrick Wills (2020), S Grant Delpit (2020), CB Denzel Ward (2018)
The Browns met with Watson on Tuesday, which appeared to be enough to send Baker Mayfield over the edge. On Tuesday night, Mayfield sent out what appeared to be a goodbye letter to Cleveland on Twitter. As for a trade package for the Texans, the 13th overall pick is a nice start, and the Browns do have some very good, young pieces on the defensive side of the ball, including two 2021 rookies in CB Greg Newsome and LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.

2. ATLANTA FALCONS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(8), 2(43,58), 3(74), 4(113), 5(151), 6(189,212)
YOUNG PLAYERS: TE Kyle Pitts (2021), CB AJ Terrell (2020), G Chris Lindstrom (2019)
The Falcons are the surprise "sleeper" team in the hunt right now. Watson is actually from the Atlanta area, which makes the Falcons very intriguing. How they handle the $50 million cap hit that comes with getting rid of QB Matt Ryan is another story, I suppose. However, a package centered around the 8th overall pick in the draft, two 2022 second round picks, and some combination of 2021 rookie TE Kyle Pitts and CB A.J. Terrell would certainly suffice.

1. CAROLINA PANTHERS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(6), 4(107), 5(144,149), 6(198), 7(245)
YOUNG PLAYERS: CB Jaycee Horn (2021), RB Chuba Hubbard (2021), DT Derrick Brown (2020), DE Yetur Gross-Matos (2020), S Jeremy Chinn (2020), EDGE Brian Burns (2019), WR DJ Moore (2018)
This is the crown jewel of trade suitors. The Panthers are the one team that has never wavered publicly in wanting to trade for Watson. They have the 6th overall pick in the draft, all of their draft capital in 2023 and 2024, and a slew of really good young players on defense, highlighted by 2021 rookie CB Jaycee Horn, who is coming off an Achilles injury (ironically, suffered at NRG Stadium in Week 3 last season). As a Texans fan, this is the team to root for in the Watson chase.

If any other teams get involved here at the eleventh hour with Watson and the Texans, that team is likely to come from the pool of teams below, so let's give you some bonus inventory here on the Seahawks, Eagles, and Giants:

SEATTLE SEAHAWKS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(9), 2(40,41), 3(72), 4(115), 5(145,153), 7(227)
YOUNG PLAYERS: WR D.K. Metcalf (2019), TE Noah Fant (2019)

PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(15,16,19), 2(51), 3(83), 4(123), 5(154,162,166)
YOUNG PLAYERS: WR Devonta Smith (2021), OL Landon Dickerson (2021)

NEW YORK GIANTS
2022 DRAFT CAPITAL: 1(5,7), 2(36), 3(67,81), 4(111), 5(147,173), 6(181)
YOUNG PLAYERS: EDGE OLB Azeez Ojulari (2021), WR Kadarius Toney (2021), T Andrew Thomas (2020), S Xavier McKinney (2020), RB Saquon Barkley (2018)

Fear not, Texan fans. It would appear that this saga, which has consumed so many pages of content here, is coming to an end pretty soon.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.
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Sean Pendergast is a contributing freelance writer who covers Houston area sports daily in the News section, with periodic columns and features, as well. He also hosts the morning drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the pre-game and post game shows for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast