Sean Pendergast

Despite Uncertain Future, Watson Still Among Top 2021 MVP Candidates

Deshaun Watson was sued yet again for sexual misconduct on Monday night.
Deshaun Watson was sued yet again for sexual misconduct on Monday night. Photo by Eric Sauseda
After over two months of silence, both on social media and literal silence, Deshaun Watson resurfaced on Wednesday morning with three very brief (like, each less than five seconds level brevity) videos of workouts in which he was engaging. The motivation for posting is anybody's guess, but I am fairly certain of one thing — Watson's posting means SOMETHING, only because he never does anything on social media that means nothing.

So, like we've done for several weeks now, we wait. The uncertainty surrounding Watson's situation has not left him completely off the NFL betting radar, though. Post NFL Draft MVP odds began circulating in the last week or so, and as you can see, Watson is still firmly considered a star in the galaxy that is the NFL elite:

* Patrick Mahomes 5/1
* Aaron Rodgers 9/1
* Josh Allen 10/1
* Lamar Jackson 14/1
* Matthew Stafford 14/1
* Kyler Murray 16/1
* Tom Brady 16/1
* Dak Prescott 18/1
* Deshaun Watson 22/1
* Justin Herbert 22/1
* Russell Wilson 22/1
* Carson Wentz 25/1
* Baker Mayfield 33/1
* Joe Burrow 33/1
* Ryan Tannehill 33/1
* Derek Carr 40/1
* Derrick Henry 40/1
* Jalen Hurts 40/1
* Matt Ryan 40/1
* Cam Newton 50/1
* Christian McCaffrey 50/1
* Jameis Winston 50/1
* Alvin Kamara 66/1
* Ben Roethlisberger 66/1
* Kirk Cousins 66/1
* Trevor Lawrence 66/1
* Tua Tagovailoa 66/1

OK, here are my thoughts on these early MVP odds:

Deshaun Watson is 22/1, without knowing where, when, or even IF he will play
With speculation of possible settlements in the 22 civil lawsuits swirling, the rumor mill has begun churning out possible suitors again, with the Dolphins, Raiders, and the Washington Football Team at the center of trade speculation. I think one thing is fairly certain — he will not be playing for the Houston Texans in 2021. If he were, betting Watson at 22/1 would be like lighting your money on fire. At 22/1, he is very good value, particularly in Washington, where he would be going to last season's division winner (albeit with a 7-9 record, but that Washington defense is fierce).

The last four MVPs still have their luster
The last four league MVP's are all among the heavy favorites to take home another MVP award in 2021, with Tom Brady (2017), Patrick Mahomes (2018), Lamar Jackson (2019), and Aaron Rodgers (2020) among the top seven candidates on the odds board. Of course, Brady is doing it with his new team, Tampa Bay, and who knows where Rodgers plays in 2021, as he and the Packers' front office try to resolve their issues, but the staying power of these four players is noteworthy.


And the non-QB's with a puncher's chance are....
The MVP award is largely a quarterback's award. Adrian Peterson in 2012 is the last non-QB to take home the hardware. This season, there are three non-QB's among the players with odds of 66/1 or shorter, and all three are running backs — Derrick Henry of Tennessee at 40/1, Christian McCaffrey of Carolina at 50/1, and Alvin Kamara of New Orleans at 66/1. Of those three players, if I were forced to take one, I'd take Kamara, whose combination of running and catching ability will be crucial to New Orleans' success, while Henry's workload the last two seasons and McCaffrey's injuries last season are both worrisome.

And the 2021 Sean Pendergast Dark Horse Sleeper MVP candidate is....
If you look at the MVP race over the last four seasons, there is always been one player in his second or third season that either wins the award or makes a serious run at it, going back to 2017's MVP race. That season, Carson Wentz, in his second season, probably would have won the award had he not gotten injured late in the season. In 2018 and 2019, Mahomes and Jackson won the award in their respective second seasons in the league. Last year, Josh Allen, in his third season, probably would have won it, if Aaron Rodgers had gotten abducted by aliens or something. So with that profile, a long shot pick in his second season who is playing in a favorable overall situation, give me Tua Tagovailoa at 66/1. He is fully healthy now, will have a normal offseason (sans heavy COVID restrictions), and most importantly, the Dolphins got him Will Fuller and Jaylen Waddle as weapons in the passing game.

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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 afternoon drive on SportsRadio 610, as well as the post game show for the Houston Texans.
Contact: Sean Pendergast