Two teams remain. According to Ian Rapport, both the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints have submitted trade offers for Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. If general manager Nick Caserio is willing to accept either package, Watson will sit down with both teams. Once he decides which one he would rather waive his “no-trade” clause for, Watson will finally be on his way out of Houston. So, for possibly the final time, here are the latest details on the Deshaun Watson situation:
Disclaimer: It is important to note that although Deshaun Watson was cleared of criminal charges, it does not necessarily mean he is innocent. This article is not an attempt to glorify Mr. Watson or excuse his actions. It is rather an analysis of his role in the greater NFL landscape. I sincerely hope justice is gained for all parties involved, whatever that may look like.
Say Good Bye to Seattle
Before jumping ahead, first comes a look at another NFC team with a “strong” interest in Deshaun Watson. After trading Russell Wilson to the Broncos, Seattle is in desperate need of a new signal-caller. Now, it appears they are quickly preparing to make the move from one elite quarterback to another. As a late addition into sweepstakes, the Seahawks are expected to just flip the capital gained from the Russell Wilson trade for Watson. This includes the 9th and 40th overall pick and a 2023 first and second-round pick. Plus, young players in defensive tackle Shelby Harris, and tight end Noah Fant. Seattle is also likely to include either DK Metcalf or Tyler Lockett in any potential deal, given Watson’s superior value.
However, despite having adequate assets to make a trade, there are several reasons the Seahawks are unlikely to land Watson. Above all, it would simply be illogical for Seattle to turn to him as their next quarterback. By moving on from Russell Wilson and cutting linebacker Bobby Wagner, the Seahawks have clearly indicated the start of a rebuild. Getting Watson would contradict these moves.
The soon-to-be ex-Texan gives Seattle no better chance to win than Russell Wilson did. Especially not in the NFC West. Moreover, the Seahawks would have to give up loads of capital for Watson to beat out Carolina and New Orleans. Thus, they would be unable to surround him with enough talent for a chance to improve in the future. If a slight reset was all Seattle wanted, they should have stuck with Wilson. But, a complete teardown has been in store for years. In short, instead of selling their future to bring in Watson, the Seahawks need to stay the course of this new era.
The Persistent Panthers
Unlike the Seahawks, the Panthers have been involved in the Deshaun Watson saga since the beginning. Owner David Tepper has been dead set on snagging Watson at whatever cost necessary. Even though the former Clemson star’s legal troubles, Carolina never let up on their interest. Now, with criminal charges dropped, the Panthers are rightfully making an “aggressive” push to secure Watson for themselves.
Carolina has exactly what Houston wants for Watson: draft picks and young defensive starters. The Panthers have the best draft pick of any team still in on Watson at number six overall. The team doesn’t pick again until the fourth round but can compensate with selections in 2023 and years beyond.
On defense, Carolina is loaded with star-studded youth. Names such as Brian Burns, Jermey Chinn, Jaycee Horn, Derrick Brown, and more should stand out to Texans fans. A combination of these players is likely headed to Houston in a Watson deal. They would provide a nucleus for Lovie Smith to build around defensively. Best of all, the Panthers have not deemed any of these players as “untouchable” meaning Nick Cesario has free reign on piecing together the perfect package.
The primary reason a trade has not happened yet is getting Watson to waive his no-trade clause. In a relatively small market and still far from competing, the Panthers offer little intrigue for a franchise quarterback. However, Watson is reportedly willing to meet with Carolina. Additionally, sources say Tepper has told Watson’s camp he will let the QB pick the team’s next head coach. The Panthers have been persistent and are now clearly putting everything on the table in one final effort.
A New Team In New Orleans
Perhaps as a reaction to the Panthers’ own push and Tom Brady’s return to the Buccaneers, general manager Mickey Loomis, is prepared to make “aggressive, roster shaking moves” to land Deshaun Watson, per Aaron Wilson. Loomis clearly understands the modern importance of a quarterback of Watson’s caliber. And, cap experts note New Orleans is actually in a position to take on Watson’s salary as is. So, as an “eleventh-hour” emergence, it looks like the Saints will not have to go the degrees some think to acquire their next franchise quarterback.
In terms of compensation, a big name expected to be included in a Watson trade is veteran offensive tackle Ryan Ramczyk. The expectation is that this would allow Houston to move the former first-round pick, Tytus Howard, back out to tackle. By doing this they can then shop current left tackle Larmey Tunsil. With Tunsil on the block, the Texans could add yet another first-round pick to their arsenal. Other names Aaron Wilson projects to be involved are defensive tackle David Onyemata, defensive end Marcus Davenport, and center Erik McCoy. These are all big positions of need for Houston. And, if paired with the right draft capital, the Saints can easily match the Panthers’ offer.
While the Seahawks and Panthers are still far from contending, the Saints have a history of postseason success in recent years. And with the defensive unit standing strong and offensive weapons such as Michael Thomas set to return, New Orleans is truly a quarterback away from winning it all. Therefore, the Saints are likely at the top of Watson’s list in terms of preferred destinations. And, to add a final bit of intrigue, Watson will undoubtedly at least open the door for Sean Payton to return to his role as head coach.