The Rams and Lions pulled off a blockbuster yesterday that involved two former #1 overall picks. The Rams sent Jared Goff, two first round picks, and a third round pick to the Lions for Matthew Stafford. Yeeeeesh. The Stafford-Goff trade brought in an absolute haul for the Lions, while the Rams took an enormous gamble in mortgaging their future on Stafford, a borderline top-10 QB.
My money is on Detroit winning this trade, but time will tell. The ripple effect that I’m watching for, however, is how this affects the ongoing Houston Texans-Deshaun Watson situation.
Where they stand
Not much has changed for Watson. He’s fed up with Houston’s top brass, plain and simple. Hiring David Culley did little to soothe his distrust for the organization, as Watson has not backed down from his trade demands.
Culley remains optimistic that he and the Texans can move past this rough patch with their star QB. He has stated that he took this head coaching job with the understanding that #4 would be under center for his new team. GM Nick Caserio has also remained positive, stating “Organizationally, just want to reiterate our commitment to Deshaun Watson. He’s had a great impact on this organization, a great impact on a lot of people, a great impact on this team…And we have zero interest in trading the player…we look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring.”
Watson was displeased with the process involved with hiring Caserio in the first place, so it’s wise for him to be extra nice to his franchise quarterback.
Issues for Watson
The problem for Deshaun is the Texans have most of the leverage here. He’s under contract until 2025, though the organization can slap a franchise tag on him for three additional years, meaning he’d be a free agent after 2028. He could be stuck in Houston for a long time if they don’t find a trade partner.
Now, if he just chooses not to play, the Texans could repeatedly fine him for missing practice, camps, games, etc. This would likely further alienate him, but it might just force him back on the field. He could also retire, but then he’d owe them $21.6 million. Watson isn’t in a great spot here. He really needs the Texans to find a trade partner.
Here’s the problem with that, though…
Someone has to move mountains
Matthew Stafford is 32, has made one Pro Bowl, is 0-3 in the playoffs, and has a career QB rating of 89.9. He just got traded for three picks in the top three rounds and Jared Goff, who is 26, has made two Pro Bowls, is 2-3 in the playoffs, and has a career QB rating of 91.5. I’m not saying Goff is better than Stafford, because I don’t think he is. I know that elite coaching and supporting casts have buoyed his numbers a bit. But he’s definitely no slouch. Stafford got swapped for him and all those picks.
What the hell kinda package is it gonna take to get Watson?!?!
It’ll be astronomical. Possibly bigger than what the Saints gave up to draft Ricky Williams, or what the Vikings gave up to trade for Herschel Walker. Stafford just set the bar as to what a proven franchise QB still in his prime is worth, and Watson is more valuable than him by leaps and bounds.
You have to assume Houston would prefer to keep Watson and smooth things over with him. No way they’re actively trying to trade him in an ideal situation. Looking at what Stafford just pulled in for the Lions, they’re probably thinking there’s no one in the NFL willing to give up enough to meet their demands.
Miami? The Jets?
The Jets and the Dolphins seem to be the teams with the loudest buzz around them as it relates to Watson. If I were the Texans, I’d offer Watson to the Jets for Sam Darnold, the #2 overall pick this year, the Jets’ first and second round picks in ’22, ’23, and throw in a third rounder in ’24. So Darnold, three 1s, two 2s, and a 3. As for the Dolphins, lemme get Tua, your two first rounders this year, your first and second rounders next year, and throw in Mike Gesicki. Oh, and maybe, like, 2,000 shares of Bitcoin or something.
Whatever the asking price is, it’s gonna be big. Comically big. Much bigger than whatever it would have been before. The Texans either retain their star 25-year-old QB, who I think will eventually play for them if he’s not traded, or they pull in a treasure trove of assets that could make them the next NFL dynasty if they manage it correctly. Houston was in a weird spot before yesterday.
But I think the Stafford-Goff trade put the Texans in a potentially lucrative position.