It wouldn’t truly be an NFL offseason without fractured relationships between franchise quarterbacks and team management. While this time is supposed to be a period of improvement for teams, some have found themselves with many internal dilemmas. Franchise quarterbacks will be on the move after disappointing seasons. With the situation surrounding Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson dominating the headlines, here is the latest news from the NFL rumor mill.
Houston Texans Quarterback Deshaun Watson Officially Requests a Trade
Things have gone from bad to worse for Texans fans. Less than a year after trading star receiver Deandre Hopkins to the Cardinals, the Texans will likely now see their star quarterback depart as well. Watson’s frustration with the ownership has reached historical levels, and he now wants out.
The Texans finished the 2020 season at 4-12. Had they not had Watson, the Texans may have finished the season winless. The former Clemson quarterback accounted for 4,974 yards of total offense in 2020. Not only was that the most of any other player in the league that season, but it was also good for the 11th-best mark in league history. A talent of the highest order, Watson can make any throw in the book. He is a magician when escaping sacks and turning plays into positive yardage. Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney wasn’t kidding when he said passing on Watson in the draft was like “passing on Michael Jordan.”
Watson’s Frayed Relationship with Management
Watson’s frustration is an issue that has been building up over the past few months. On top of the Hopkins trade, Texans owner Cal McNair reportedly assured Watson that he would be involved in the team’s search for a new general manager. Watson made many suggestions to the Texans brass on who they should at least interview for the job. The Texans reportedly disregarded Watson’s opinion and conducted their own, independent search.
On top of that, the Texans also hired former Ravens assistant David Culley to become their next head coach. While Culley is a well-respected individual in league circles, there are doubts about his ability to be a competent head coach. His official title with the Ravens was “Passing Game Coordinator.” The Ravens ranked last in the league in passing yards this past season with MVP candidate Lamar Jackson at quarterback. For a team who relies primarily on their passing game, it was a questionable hire, to say the least. It was also a decision that did not sit well with Watson.
Potential Landing Spots for Watson
The Texans will have no shortage of suitors for Watson on the open market. A generational talent, only a few teams in the league would be satisfied picking their quarterback over the former Clemson star. The three front runners for Watson appear to be the Jets, 49ers, and Dolphins, with the Bears being a potential landing spot. The belief around the league is that it will take a substantial haul for the Texans to part with their star quarterback. At least two first-round picks, two second-round picks, and two defensive starters were the baseline requirements of a package for Watson. While that is no small price to pay, Watson is more than capable of taking any of the four teams mentioned to the next level from Day 1.
The Raiders have also appeared as surprise contenders for Watson. Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal first reported the Raiders’ interest in Watson and laid out how a potential deal could look:
“The Raiders would have to receive two first-round picks for [Raider quarterback Derek] Carr, which they would then package with their own first-rounders in 2021 and 2022 to present a compelling offer of four first-round picks to the Texans for Watson, who has reportedly asked be traded.”Vincent Bonsignore, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Why Watson to the Raiders Makes Sense
The Raiders’ interest in Watson should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Raiders head coach Jon Gruden. Gruden has always had a particular fascination with quarterbacks, as demonstrated by his TV show, “Gruden’s QB Camp,” where he analyzed the film of quarterback prospects in the upcoming draft. While Gruden has said on multiple occasions that Derek Carr is a “great quarterback,” it would be hard for Gruden to pass up the opportunity to work with Watson. Gruden is already familiar with Watson as he had had the former Clemson star on his show back in 2017.
While it is still early in the process, the Raiders are a sleeper team that could be in contention for Watson.
Eagles Quarterback Carson Wentz Wants Out of Philadelphia
Similar to the situation in Houston, the Eagles have a quarterback crisis on their hands. According to NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Carson Wentz wants to get out of Philadelphia. This comes after the Eagles replaced him with Jalen Hurts during the season. The Eagles want “no less than a first” in return for Wentz.
After four promising seasons with the Eagles, Philadelphia signed Wentz to a four year, 128 million dollar deal in 2019. The following season, Wentz went 3-8-1 as the starting quarterback and almost had a 1-1 touchdown to interception ratio. His 15 interceptions led the league, and he was sacked 50 times, also good for first in the league.
The Eagles situation surrounding Wentz should give teams confidence that he still has what it takes to be a great quarterback in the league. Injuries along the offensive line and a depleted wide receiver corps hindered the Eagles’ performance for most of the season. His top receiver at one point during the season was undrafted Travis Fulgham.
Wentz’s Struggles and Trade Value
On the flip side, there were some truly troubling signs from Wentz that were not related to the teams’ performance. Poor decision making and the inability to stay completely healthy are red flags that potential trade partners must consider. His huge contract makes it a significant risk for teams to bank on his remaining potential and ignore this season’s struggles.
Depending on the price, Wentz will receive interest from a variety of teams across the league. Like Watson, the Jets and Bears could go after Wentz if the Texans asking price is too high. The Colts are also in need of a quarterback after the retirement of Phillip Rivers. Indianapolis holds the 21st overall pick in this upcoming draft. That plus an additional late-round selection may be enough to convince the Eagles to part ways with Wentz.
San Francisco Inquired About Availability of Vikings Quarterback Kirk Cousins
Following the Matthew Stafford trade, the starting quarterbacks in NFC West are Russell Wilson, Kyler Murray, Stafford, and Jimmy Garropolo. The 49ers need an upgrade at the quarterback position to compete for the division. While Watson is still an option, the 49ers have identified Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins as a potential alternative.
According to a report, the 49ers approached the Vikings with an offer for Cousins. San Francisco offered a second and fourth-round pick along with Garropolo in exchange for Cousins. The Vikings are reportedly looking for a first-round selection in return for Cousins.
It is unclear if the Vikings value Cousins as a first-rounder or if they would need a first-rounder to feel inclined to absorb Garropolo’s contract. Garropolo earned himself a five year, 137 million dollar deal after playing five stellar games with San Francisco in 2017. While he led the team to the Super Bowl in 2019, he struggled to stay healthy last season and, even when he was, his performance was highly underwhelming. The 49ers championship window is still open, and it appears they don’t believe Garropolo is the quarterback to lead them back to the Super Bowl.
Cousins is coming off another strong year with the Vikings. He passed for over 4200 yards to go along with 35 passing touchdowns, a career-high. Cousins will enter the 2021-22 season in the first year of a two year, 66 million dollar deal he signed with the Vikings back in March 2020. Cousins’ cap hit over the next two years is higher than Garropolo’s. However, the 49ers should be able to afford his contract. This rumor is something to monitor as pairing Kirk Cousins with Kyle Shanahan would make the 49ers viable contenders for the NFC West.
Other Notes From Around the League
Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz Has Likely Played Last Game for the Team
Philadelphia tight end Zach Ertz has appeared to play his last football for the Eagles. In an emotional press conference, Ertz thanked the fans of Philadelphia as well as the front office. After failing to reach an agreement on a contract extension during the season, it is unlikely the Eagles will bring Ertz back, especially after the emergence of tight end Dallas Goedert.
In correspondence to Ertz’s contract, the Eagles save 4 million if they trade him before June 1st. If they trade him after June 1st, they will save roughly 8 million. However, dealing Ertz after free agency and the draft seems unlikely. A few teams that could target Ertz are the Cardinals, Steelers, and Patriots. At this point in his career, Ertz’s best football is most likely behind him. He suffered from a multitude of injuries that limited him to just 11 games last season. With that being said, a third or fourth-round pick is an appropriate value for Ertz.
J.J Watt Will Be Available For Trade
Yet another Texans star will depart this offseason. According to reports, star edge rusher J.J Watt has likely played his last game in Houston.
Watt is a legend in every sense of the word. Over ten years with Houston, Watt amassed 101 sacks and 172 tackles for loss. In both 2012 and 2014, Watt amassed 20.5 sacks. That total is tied for 7th-most all-time in a single season. A first-ballot Hall of Famer, Watt has arguably been one of the best players in the NFL for the last decade.
While his past is remarkable, Watt’s best days are behind him. He is 31 and has an expiring contract. As a player, he still has a lot to offer to a contending team. His presence alone demands attention that improves the play of the entire defensive line. The Chargers, Chiefs, and Patriots are a few teams to watch as contenders for Watt should the Texans choose to trade him. No longer worth a first-rounder, Watt would likely fetch a third or fourth-round pick from a team on the open market.