We recently laid out all the reasons why a Deshaun Watson-Miami Dolphins trade would be bad news for Patriots, including short- and long-term considerations.
Well, after an extended period of heightened speculation, Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline passed without the Houston Texans trading Watson to the Dolphins — or the Carolina Panthers, or the Denver Broncos. As expected, the star quarterback’s ongoing legal situation was a major hang-up for teams interested in the 26-year-old.
This is a positive development for the Patriots, who recently have seen a few things break their way.
Things have changed since the season opener when Miami left Gillette Stadium with a dramatic victory over New England. Barring a ridiculous run, the 1-7 Dolphins no longer are a team the Patriots could compete with for an AFC wild-card spot. However, the two are set to meet in the regular season finale, and the Dolphins obviously are a lesser team with Tua Tagovailoa under center than they would be with Watson at quarterback.
That doesn’t mean a victory is guaranteed for the Patriots — they’ve lost three of four to Brian Flores’s team and regularly struggle in Miami — but it is a more winnable matchup.
All indications are that Watson never will play for the Texans again and that a Dolphins trade still could happen during the offseason. At this point, Miami still should be considered the favorite to land one of the NFL’s top quarterbacks.
But a lot can happen between now and the spring. Miami passing on a Watson deadline trade clears the way for other teams to re-enter the sweepstakes, should they be satisfied with the outcomes of Watson’s civil lawsuits.
For example, perhaps the Panthers finish the season unsold on Sam Darnold as their franchise quarterback and elect to go after Watson. The three-time Pro Bowler landing in the NFC would be a break for all AFC teams, including the Patriots. Yes, we’re dealing in hypotheticals, but all of them became possible the moment the trade deadline passed.
This story clearly isn’t over. But, for now, it’s going in the Patriots’ favor.