The Texans are standing firm and saying they won’t trade Watson, but at a certain point, they might not have a choice. Watson could simply refuse to play, and then the Texans would be stuck without a starting quarterback or multiple first-round picks, and that’s a bad place to be.
Releasing Watt could serve as the Texans dipping their toe in the water as they slowly realize that trading Watson is an inevitability, not a choice. Trading Watson will have a more profound effect on the Texans’ fanbase, but Watt is the bigger team icon for his 10 years of service to the franchise. If anything, the Texans would be smart to get a Watson deal done quickly and bury both pieces of bad news on one Friday and use the rest of the offseason to try to placate the fanbase.
Relating to Houston’s move to release their defensive end to the Patriots, it’s still far more likely that New England could convince Watt to sign than it is for them to acquire Watson via trade, simply because of the price. Watt will only cost cash and cap space. Watson will likely demand somewhere around four first-round picks plus money.
But both moves are worth pursuing. And if the Patriots could somehow convince Watt to come to New England, then perhaps Watson would be more inclined to want to join the team whose spawn — notably Jack Easterby and Bill O’Brien — created such a mess in Houston.
Watt certainly has a fan in Watson.
“Salute to one of the Greatest of All Time @JJWatt I appreciate you for all the work you put in and more importantly the person you are,” Watson tweeted Friday morning. “Any team in the league will be better the day you out on their jersey! 1OVE my brother! MORE Glory 🙏🏾”
Or perhaps trading for Watson would convince Watt to come on board. It was interesting to see the Patriots attend Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence’s pro day on Friday. It would likely cost as much to move up to No. 1 overall and take Lawrence as it would to acquire Watson via trade. The Patriots definitely need a franchise quarterback, and there’s no perfect option available via trade, free agency or the draft. Watson is the most sure-thing, however.
The Patriots have been known to make splash additions from time to time. Who ever would have expected them to sign Antonio Brown early in the 2019 season, for instance? So, while it’s unlikely that Watson or Watt will land in New England, as always, anything is on the table for the Patriots.