Deshaun Watson Landing Spots: Potential suitors for the Texans QB

Undoubtedly, the NFL offseason’s biggest story is the Houston Texans possibly trading QB Deshaun Watson. As he seems more than willing to sit out the season, it only seems prudent to evaluate potential landing spots for Texans QB Deshaun Watson if they do end up trading him before the season gets underway.

Both QB Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans seem firmly dug in

 There is a Texas-sized line in the sand, and it appears neither side is willing to blink. After requesting a trade, the Texans remain steadfast in their unwillingness to trade Deshaun Watson, regardless if it is one of his preferred landing spots. As recently as Thursday, Texans head coach David Culley referred to Watson as “our quarterback.”

Speaking for the first time since his introduction, Culley reiterated the team’s stance on keeping Watson with the Houston Texans. 

“We are very committed to Deshaun as our quarterback,” Culley said. “He is our quarterback. He’s the only guy we got under contract at this time, right now.”

If I were the coach, I would say the same thing, as having Watson on your team is 85% of the draw when going to the organization.

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 Less than six months after signing a four-year, $156 million contract, Deshaun Watson felt the situation was beyond repair and requested a trade to one of his preferred landing spots. If I were to guess, I would say it is a 90% chance he will hold out if not traded, forcing the Texans’ hand. 

The Texans are aware of this, and right now, there is no plan B. Culley said, “as of right now, there is no contingency plan.” Are the Houston Texans willing to play chicken when needing to rebuild, or are the potential return and the risk of Deshaun Watson too great, forcing them to trade him to a new landing spot?

A reduced 2021 salary cap will heavily impact potential landing spots for QB Deshaun Watson

Due to lost revenue of the 2020 season, the NFL salary cap took a massive hit. Adam Schefter recently reported the 2021 salary cap will be $182.5 million. 

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Teams are cash-strapped and need to make difficult decisions regarding veterans and how bullish they can be in free agency. Watson’s contract could also push away the potential suitors for the Texans QB. Whoever ends up as Deshaun Watson’s new landing spot needs to have the assets to move along with sizeable cap space to take on his contract. 

If the Texans do trade their franchise QB, where are the logical landing spots for Deshaun Watson?

The New York Jets make complete sense as a landing spot for Texans QB Deshaun Watson in a trade

First things first, they have the cap space to dit at $69.89 million. It is an excellent number if you are a team rebuilding and need the flexibility to make a big splash in a short time frame. Next, they also have the draft picks. Currently, the Jets have the No. 2 overall selection and pick 23 from Seattle. No question it will take quite a bit more, but it at least makes sense as a base. 

The Jets are in the middle of a QB quandary of their own. So why not go out and trade for a perennial MVP candidate in Texans QB Deshaun Watson? The Jets were already listed on his preferred landing spots if a trade were to go down, a crucial bit of information knowing he has a no-trade clause.

Look out for Miami as a landing spot in a potential trade for Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Did the Dolphins win the “Tank for Tua” race in the end and draft the player the fans wanted last year? Yes. Should that keep them from trading with the Texans for QB Deshaun Watson? Absolutely not.

Watson is already at the ceiling you could ever hope Tua reaches. As an organization, Miami is in one of the best places of all NFL teams. They have a solid defense, young talent, cap space, and a head coach who has built a new culture. It is no longer about winning in the future — it is about winning NOW.

If Deshaun Watson lands in Miami, it will take at least Tua, both 2021 first-round picks, and some from next year. No one said this would be cheap, but it would be worth it. Sure, getting guys on rookie contracts is excellent for the long run, but Miami could still upgrade using their $33.1 million in cap space around Watson.

The Carolina Panthers are firmly in the mix as a potential landing spot for Texans QB Deshaun Watson

Watson is coming off his best season even though the Texans ended the 2020 season with a 4-12 record. He had career bests in yards (4,823), completion percentage (70.2%), touchdowns (33), and yards gained per attempt (8.9). His 4,823 yards passing led the NFL.

Imagine surrounding him with D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, Ian Thomas, and Christian McCaffrey, with Joe Brady and Matt Rhule at the helm? Talk about scary hours in the NFC East. 

Carolina has $32.596 million (11th) in cap space to work with, but it’s a question of whether or not the Panthers have the pieces to send to the Texans to make a trade work for QB Deshaun Watson.

GM John Lynch could make a big move and open up San Francisco as a landing spot in a Deshaun Watson trade

It’s no secret the 49ers would like someone other than Jimmy Garoppolo under center come Week 1. 

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If Deshaun Watson lands in San Francisco, they instantly vault up to possibly the top spot in the NFC power rankings. Kyle Shanahan is a mastermind play-caller, and surrounding Watson with George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and an incredible front seven on defense would be well worth the trade cast with Houston.

Could we see Texans QB Deshaun Watson reunite with DeAndre Hopkins in a trade with the Arizona Cardinals?

Every place that ever gets brought into a Deshaun Watson trade discussion revolves around ambiguity at the quarterback position. Not only that, but it involves enough draft picks to fill the VIP lounge on a Friday night. What if there was a more straightforward option?

The Houston Texans trade QB Deshaun Watson to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for QB Kyler Murray and a 2021 first-round pick. That simple.

We all know there is an open line of communication between the front-offices. Honestly, the Texans are essentially the AAA-affiliate of the Cardinals. First, Hopkins was called up, then J.J. Watt, and now Deshaun Watson can join them in the Big Leagues. 

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But in all seriousness, it a real possibility. Kyler Murray has seen his struggles but has immense upside, and when healthy, has improved. Though, his willingness to try to make something happen has also been his downfall at times. However, he also said there is a desire to still give the MLB a legitimate shot at some point. It’s worth noting that the two QBs are only separated by two years of age.

Yes, the Cardinals have been all-in on Murray since they drafted him. However, they are well aware of the upcoming contract negotiations coming after the 2021 season. Imagine how quickly the internet would blow up if Deshaun Watson’s landing spot became Arizona via a trade for Murray? It would be glorious.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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