The phrase “New year, new me” apparently didn’t seem like a good idea to Houston sports teams, as the city has itself another disgruntled superstar to deal with at the beginning of 2021.
Just a few weeks after trade rumors related to Houston Rockets star James Harden began to intensify, the city’s football counterparts decided to jump into the equation by reportedly upsetting Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
After finishing the 2020 regular season – Watson’s fourth in the league – with a 4-12 record, the Texans reportedly angered Watson by omitting him from the conversation related to the franchise’s new general manager.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Watson “is extremely unhappy with the organization after owner Cal McNair informed him he would be involved in the GM and coach hiring process and provide feedback… but then did neither in the hire of GM Nick Caserio.”
The news broke just days after a clip from Week 17 showed Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt apologizing to Watson for “wasting one of your years,” and comes amid rampant speculation that Watson may request a trade this offseason with the hope of finding a new home for his 2021 campaign.
If Watson indeed wants to be put on the trading block, and if the Texans do decide to blow things up and go with a full rebuild for the 2021 season, here are a few teams that should be on the phone to make a play for Houston’s star quarterback.
- New York Jets
Throughout the entirety of the 2020 season, New York Jets fans thought their team would be drafting a franchise quarterback with the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Then, the team managed to win its way out of the top of the order, falling down to the second pick with a 2-14 record compared to the Jacksonville Jaguars’ 1-15 resume. In the process, they potentially/most likely lost their spot in the sweepstakes for Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.
The Jets could still land Ohio State QB Justin Fields with the second overall pick, or could even have Lawrence fall into their laps if Fields plays himself into the top pick during Ohio State’s National Championship game against Alabama. But, what if they forego the risk, and trade for Watson instead?
New York could flip the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and other assets, like quarterback Sam Darnold, into a deal for Watson, and allow the Texans the perfect opportunity to build for their future. On the other end, the Jets would land an already-solidified quarterback, and do their best to build up an offensive arsenal for the MVP contender to work with.
It likely isn’t the preferred destination for a player of Watson’s caliber, but if he truly just wants out of Houston, the Jets could be the perfect team to make it happen.
- San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers have struggled to signal any sort of a serious commitment to quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo in recent years, even after he took the team to Super Bowl LIV against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have expressed their excitement in the Garoppolo project, but have seemingly kept an open mind when it comes to evaluating quarterbacks across the league and in the draft.
They were apparently interested in Tom Brady in the 2020 offseason, and fans have wondered about whether or not they would trade up to pick a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft.
If they really wanted to change directions under center, however, the right move to make is a trade with the Texans.
Swapping Garoppolo for Watson and throwing in the 12th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft could be a perfect offer for Houston to consider. It would give the Texans the chance to move almost laterally at quarterback with a veteran like Garoppolo, and would allow them the opportunity to draft a wide receiver early in a year where they would otherwise have no picks in the first two rounds.
- Chicago Bears
The Chicago Bears haven’t exactly done themselves any favors when it comes to their quarterback situation, but they could potentially write some wrongs by making a massive trade in 2021.
Chicago has gotten tons of flack since the 2017 NFL Draft, when they selected Mitchell Trubisky to be their franchise quarterback over the likes of Chiefs star Patrick Mahomes and…you guessed it…Deshaun Watson.
Each of those two quarterbacks apparently took the snub to heart, outplaying Trubisky throughout their four years in the league, and even winning league MVP honors and a Super Bowl in Mahomes’ case.
While Watson may have some hard feelings towards the organization for not picking him back in 2017, the Bears could make a massive play in 2021 to make it up to him and get him out of Houston.
Chicago could include either Trubisky or fellow quarterback Nick Foles, merge in some nice draft capital and potentially add in some defensive help to lure Houston into a deal for Watson.
It isn’t the same level of a return that the Jets or 49ers could provide, but it may be the best offer the Texans can get if the Jets decide to figure things out with Darnold and the No. 2 pick, and if the Niners stick it out with Garoppolo.
- New England Patriots
It’s not surprising to see the New England Patriots struggling to find their quarterback of the future, considering they have only gone through two seasons without Tom Brady under center since 2001.
As Brady departed for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ahead of the 2020 season, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and company decided to put their eggs in Cam Newton’s basket, all while maneuvering through a COVID-19-impacted preseason and a multitude of pandemic-related opt-outs.
With all of that taken into consideration, it’s easy to see why New England went 7-9 in 2020, putting together a sub .500-record for the first time since 2000.
Newton may no longer be in the Patriots’ future plans as a result, and Belichick may now be on the prowl for a new answer under center to get things back on track.
Will he try to trade up to select a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft? Will he trust second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham to take the reins in the Auburn alum’s third year?
Or, will Belichick spend big on a veteran like Matthew Stafford, Carson Wentz, or Watson?
The Patriots would need to make a splash in any potential deal for Watson, but they have their best first-round pick in years and loads of veteran talent to offer to Houston if they want to get it done.
Package that first-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Julian Edelman, and maybe some future draft selections, and things could quickly get very interesting in New England.