It’s been a great couple of weeks for Deshaun Watson’s trade value.
That was one of my biggest takeaways from Week 7 in the NFL. And Week 6 for that matter.
This has nothing to do with the 22 active civil lawsuits accusing Watson of sexual assault and sexual misconduct. To my knowledge, there has been no new movement as far as that goes. And, frankly, I have no idea how any organization could trade anything of real value for Watson with these allegations hanging over his head.
For one, how do you explain this acquisition to your fanbase, especially since there doesn’t seem to be any resolution to these cases coming any time soon?
This isn’t the Eagles signing Michael Vick after he had completed his prison term for dogfighting. At least at that point, the franchise could say he had paid his debt to society and that Vick was committed to helping to stop dogfighting as part of the conditions of his return. I supposed they could just say they are going to operate under the assumption that Watson is innocent until proven guilty, perhaps?
Also, how do you know what assets to give up if you don’t know what Watson’s availability will be for this season and beyond? What if the NFL puts him on the commissioner’s exempt list at some point? What if he is ultimately found guilty in a criminal proceeding?
Those are all questions that any team interested in acquiring Watson would have to ask themselves.
That’s not the point — at least not of this column. The point is that the performances of the Miami Dolphins and Carolina Panthers in general, and quarterbacks Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold in particular, have only served to increase the desire of those franchises to acquire a proven top-five quarterback like Watson.
Whether they’d ever admit it or not, the Houston Texans front office and ownership must be thrilled by the events they’ve seen take place the past couple of weeks.
If Darnold and the Panthers were still playing as well as they were the first three weeks en route to a 3-0 start, the interest in Watson would be minimal at best. Instead, they have lost four straight and Darnold has gotten progressively worse over the past three weeks.
First, it was the three interceptions and only 18 points scored in a loss to the 2-5 Eagles at home. Then, it was a putrid 41.46% completion percentage and two turnovers in the home loss to the Vikings, although to be fair to Darnold it appeared as if the Panthers' receivers decided to go on strike that game as they dropped an absurd number of passes. Then there was this past Sunday on the road against the Giants, a game in which Darnold was so poor that head coach Matt Rhule benched him for former XFL standout P.J. Walker in the second half.
The Dolphins' conversation with Tagovailoa is a little different as Tua has completed over 70% of his passes and averaged over 300 yards in the past two weeks since returning from injury. Unfortunately, he has also made critical errors at inopportune times that have led to his Dolphins being the first team to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars in a long time last week as well as the Atlanta Falcons this week. Plus, the fact that Tua was coming off an injury in the first place is problematic. His durability was an issue when he was drafted and nothing that has happened so far in Miami has served to alleviate those concerns.
Frankly, this comes down to Stephen Ross and David Tepper, the owners of the Dolphins and Panthers, respectively. They are two of the wealthiest owners in the NFL and they didn’t get that way in life by being patient and waiting for things to happen. Can you imagine how infuriating it must be for them that they can pay for anything in life other than a good football team? These guys can hop on their private plane and fly to Fiji at a moment’s notice, yet they can’t have the success they so desperately covet as an NFL owner until they get a franchise quarterback. Hence, the enhanced interest in Watson given how their teams have performed recently.
That’s not to say it will happen by the Nov. 2 trade deadline. Multiple reports indicate there’s a good chance it happens by then, although I still think the Texans might be better positioned if they wait until after the season when they are likely to have more suitors.
Then again, Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract which gives him the final say over where he goes. The idea that Watson has that control with these allegations hanging over his head doesn’t sit well with some people but ultimately that’s the current situation.
The bottom line, at least from a Texans perspective, is that the past few weeks couldn’t have possibly gone better for them from a trade value standpoint, especially if they’d like to move on from Watson by the trade deadline. Right or wrong, there’s a couple of impatient billionaires that want a franchise quarterback and the chance at a championship that comes with it and they’re not going to be afraid to spend, in this case assets, to get it.
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