The Houston Texans continue to insist they have no plans to trade franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson.
That said, a blockbuster deal might be inevitable.
NFL Media’s Michael Giardi reported Thursday an active player who considers himself “good” friends with Watson strongly believes the 25-year-old QB won’t show up for the Texans and instead will sit out until he’s traded by Houston.
This perhaps is generally accepted across the league, as Giardi notes, but it’s still a significant development in the Watson saga, which has produced a steady stream of rumors ever since it became clear the three-time Pro Bowl selection wants out of Houston.
Watson, the 12th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, is one of the NFL’s premier quarterbacks. He’s just now entering the prime of his career and is under contract through 2025 at a reasonable rate. The Texans can expect a king’s ransom in return if they open the phone lines and explore a trade, especially since they’ll seemingly have no shortage of suitors vying for a deal.
The New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos are among the teams that have been linked to Watson in trade speculation, although that hardly paints the whole picture. Most teams around the NFL would love to add Watson. So, perhaps a dark-horse candidate will emerge. It depends on which organization is willing to go all in if a full-fledged bidding war breaks out.
There’s been chatter that Houston could demand at least three first-round picks in trade talks. And even that package might be a little light, all things considered.
It’ll be fascinating to see if the Texans target players in addition to picks. The Jets and Dolphins theoretically can offer quarterbacks Sam Darnold and Tua Tagovailoa, respectively, for instance, while the Panthers reportedly are willing to include superstar running Christian McCaffrey as part of their effort to do “whatever it takes” to land Watson.
Of course, all of this is predicated on Houston actually showing a willingness to negotiate. And while the team hasn’t to this point, it might just be a matter of time before the Texans need to change course.