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It seems as if 20 teams have been named as a potential fit for Deshaun Watson, should he get his wish and force a trade out of Houston. But most of it is just talk. There are only a select number of teams that can convince both the Texans and Watson, who would have to waive his no-trade clause, to agree to a trade.
There are essentially five teams that make sense. Here is how far Watson can take each of them next season:
New York Jets
According to the Miami Herald, the Jets are Watson’s preferred destination. If true, no team is going to match what the Jets can offer. Here comes the “but.” Why exactly would Watson want to go there?
I read the report, it makes no sense. The Jets have, arguably, the worst roster in the NFL. Perhaps Robert Saleh can coach, but he’s not taking this roster to the playoffs next season, even with Watson. Remember, the Jets’ only upside is their long list of picks, which would be sent away to acquire Watson.
If Watson is the Jets QB next season, he is likely looking at a 6-win year, not much better than his 4-12 season with the Texans.
Playoffs. Miami would’ve made the playoffs last season if Tua Tagovailoa could’ve shown an ounce of upside. He didn’t.
The Dolphins very well could have the NFL’s best defense next season. Combine that with Watson, and this team is a problem. While Watson in Miami wouldn’t put the Dolphins ahead of the Chiefs, Bills or Ravens — it would put them in that class.
Should Watson end up in Miami, don’t be surprised if he ends up in the AFC Championship Game in a season or two.
San Francisco 49ers
If Nick Bosa, George Kittle and Jimmy Garoppolo are healthy next season, the 49ers are again Super Bowl-caliber. The roster in San Francisco is that good. Now, imagine swapping out Garoppolo for Watson.
In the AFC, Watson has to compete with Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow, Baker Mayfield, and next season, Trevor Lawrence. By contrast, Aaron Rodgers is the only NFC QB I’d take over Watson. What’s more, Watson would have a better supporting cast with the 49ers than Rodgers has with the Packers.
Watson wouldn’t make the 49ers the NFC favorites next year, but he’d put them right there with the Bucs and Packers.
Ian Rapoport says the Panthers will be aggressive in courting Watson and could put up a good offer for him.
The Panthers wouldn’t be Super Bowl ready with Watson in Year One, though the team is moving in the right direction due to its promising coaching staff.
Roster-wise, Carolina is solid. Christian McCaffrey is the best RB in the NFL and was born to play in an offense with Watson. DJ Moore and Robby Anderson are studs on the outside who would take significant leaps catching passes from a QB like Watson.
Carolina lost 11 games this season, but was competitive in nine of them, including a two-point loss to Kansas City.
With Watson, the Panthers are a Wild Card team in 2021 with around 10 wins.
I’m putting the Bears on this list merely because they are brought up in every discussion surrounding Watson. I don’t see it happening though. The Bears do not have the assets or the draft picks to get this deal done. The only logical way Watson finds himself in Chicago is if, out of nowhere, he says the Bears are the only team he will waive his no-trade clause for. He is not doing that.
The Bears have a Super Bowl defense, but the rest of the team is concerning. Watson is trying to escape poor coaching, and did you see who the Bears brought back? Sure, Allen Robinson is a beast, but he’s also a free agent.
If this move does somehow happen, a Watson-led Bears team is likely fighting for and clinching a Wild Card spot.