Sean Pendergast

Deshaun Watson Shoots Up NFL MVP Odds Board at 10 to 1

Deshaun Watson is one of the leading candidates for MVP of the NFL in 2022.
Deshaun Watson is one of the leading candidates for MVP of the NFL in 2022. Photo by Eric Sauseda
The spin cycle on Deshaun Watson's trade market has amped up faster than anyone would have imagined a few weeks ago. In the aftermath of the grand jury decision not to prosecute Watson on ten criminal complaints, some NFL teams are acting as if the 22 civil lawsuits don't even exist.

Specifically, Watson met on Monday evening with officials from the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints, the two teams considered frontrunners, as of now, and on Tuesday he met with the Cleveland Browns. There have been reports of interest from Atlanta Falcons and other teams. However, one faction that has picked up extreme interest in Watson are the oddsmakers!

In particular, has now installed Watson as one of the favorites to win the Most Valuable Player award in 2022! That's a hell of a jump, from completely ostracized to in the MVP race in just a few days! Here are the full MVP odds with a few thoughts following:
                                      2/25/22      3/14/22
Josh Allen                          6/1           15/2
Tom Brady                        OTB            9/1
Deshaun Watson              40/1          10/1
Joe Burrow                       12/1          10/1
Patrick Mahomes             15/2           10/1
Aaron Rodgers                  9/1            12/1
Russell Wilson                  20/1           12/1
Justin Herbert                   16/1           14/1
Kyler Murray                     16/1           18/1
Matthew Stafford              16/1           18/1
Dak Prescott                    12/1           20/1
Lamar Jackson                 16/1          20/1
Derek Carr                        33/1          33/1
Derrick Henry                   28/1           33/1
Jonathan Taylor                28/1          33/1
Trey Lance                       40/1           33/1
Mac Jones                       40/1           33/1
Cooper Kupp                   33/1           50/1
Deebo Samuel                40/1           50/1
Kirk Cousins                    50/1           50/1
Baker Mayfield                 66/1          66/1
Jalen Hurts                      40/1           66/1
Justin Fields                   100/1          66/1
Trevor Lawrence             80/1           80/1
Alvin Kamara                 100/1         100/1
Austin Ekeler                  100/1        100/1
Carson Wentz                100/1         100/1
Christian McCaffrey       100/1         100/1
Dalvin Cook                    100/1        100/1
Davante Adams             100/1         100/1
Ja'Marr Chase                 80/1         100/1
Jameis Winston             100/1         100/1
Jimmy Garoppolo          100/1         100/1
Matt Ryan                      100/1         100/1
Nick Chubb                    100/1         100/1
Ryan Tannehill               100/1         100/1
T.J. Watt                         100/1         150/1
Myles Garrett                  100/1         200/1
Tua Tagovailoa               100/1         200/1

If we are betting that Watson is going to live up to this hype, there are some key questions that we need answers to. They are as follows:

Who does Watson play for?
In order to win an MVP, first and foremost, you need to be on a contending team. Watson put up HUGE numbers in 2020, leading the league in passing yardage, but the Texans were 4-12 after starting the season 0-4, so Watson was never even in the periphery of an MVP argument. Of the teams interested in Watson, I would say the Saints and Browns both give him the best shots at an MVP, as both have rosters that appear to be "a QB away" from Super Bowl contention. Also, in each of the divisions those teams play in, there are marquee matchups awaiting. With the Browns, there would be two games apiece against Joe Burrow and Lamar Jackson, and with the Saints, you'd have two Watson-Brady matchups. That is box office!

How long is a possible suspension?
Another thing you need in order to win an MVP is, well, you need to be ON THE FIELD. Go figure, right? Watson has been extremely durable since his ACL tear in his rookie season in 2017, playing in every game in 2018, 2019, and 2020 (aside from a Week 17 week of rest in 2019). Obviously, he sat all of 2021, so his body should feel great. However, injury is not the main threat to Watson's availability. The NFL could (and probably will) suspend Watson for anywhere from two to eight games for the alleged conduct outlined in the 22 civil lawsuits. Remember, there doesn't need to be a criminal conviction for the NFL to hand down discipline. Any suspension, even a short one, would short circuit an MVP candidacy.

Do voters use their MVP vote as their own version of discipline?
Taking the above paragraph a step further, lets pretend that Watson avoids a suspension, or gets a short enough suspension to where he could still put up eye popping numbers. We all know the award-voting media sometimes sees themselves as the keepers of justice in the football galaxy. If there is a feeling Watson went unpunished (or even under-punished), I could see MVP voters viewing the withholding of  their vote as their own form of punishment toward or protest against Watson as an MVP of the league. Don't  ever discount the sanctimony of some NFL writers!

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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