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The Great Watson Debate: Why The Jets Have to Make The Call

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Deshaun Watson situation in Houston has deteriorated to such an extent that according to multiple sources speaking to ESPN, its believed he’s played his last game as a member of the Texans.

If you’re the Jets, that immediately piques your interest.

The Jets are coming off a horrible 2-14 season with Sam Darnold being statistically the worst QB in the league. I know, Gase sucked, the system sucked, he had no talent. I get it. None of that matters when someone like Watson potentially becomes available.

I say potentially because everything coming out of Houston indicates that they have absolutely no interest in trading him, why would they? However, in the age of player power, if he doesn’t want to be in Houston, he can force their hand.

So, let's just take a look at this situation and all the questions surrounding the potential to trade for him.

What would it take for the Jets to trade for Watson?

This is a really interesting question and one that’s difficult to answer because a player of Watson’s ability doesn’t come onto the market very often, especially at his age.

Let's just take Jeremiah’s suggestion above. It’s basically 3 first-round selections. So you’re basically trading a first-round pick this year and Jamal Adams, as it’ll be the two picks received from Seattle that go over.

Do we have too many holes to do this trade?

One argument I see over and over again is the following “We’re more than a QB away from competing”. There is absolute truth to that, but I also think it fails to see the big picture in the context of how the league is set-up.

Yes, we are more than a QB away from competing, but a top 5 QB gets you a lot closer to competing, and like it or not, we have absolutely no idea what we have at QB. Sam in 3 years has failed to show the ability consistently to make you believe he’s a top-end QB. I understand and accept the circumstances but it doesn’t change the data.

Joe Douglas has also put us in a position where we can make a trade like this without completely abandoning the re-build. The main part of any re-build for an NFL franchise is getting a top-end QB.

The trade outlined above would still leave the Jets with first-round picks in 2021, 2022 and whatever we got for Sam Darnold. Listen to the media heads talk and Sam’s value is being projected around a 2nd round pick, more for his age and potential than anything else.

We’re in a fortunate position where it’s not one or the other. It’s not trading for Watson or rebuilding the team, you can do both.

Would Watson want to come to the Jets?

This may be the key question. Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, which basically means he can veto a trade to any team he doesn’t want to go to.

Now this question is impossible to answer unless you’re Watson. We know that he wanted the Texans to interview Robert Saleh for head coach. They failed to do that. So that’s a huge tick for the Jets who of course just hired Robert Saleh.

Could you sell a young QB on coming to the Big Apple and turning a franchise around? I don’t know, but if anyone can do it, I imagine Saleh and Joe Douglas can.

Just how good is Watson?

Very good. Deshaun has played four years in the league, starting 53 games. He’s completing 67.8% of his passes, has thrown for nearly 15,000 yards and tossed 104 touchdowns to 36 interceptions. He’s elite, plain and simple.

On a poor Texans team in 2020 he managed to throw for 4823 yards, 33 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions, his best season in Houston. He’s 25 and he’s getting better. You’re getting a top 5 quarterback in the league before he’s even entered his prime.

If you think the Jets offensive line was bad, the line in Houston was just as bad, if not worse. Watson was sacked 49 times and hurried on 81 occasions, He was pressured on 26.3% of his drop backs, so one in four he was under pressure and he still threw 33 touchdowns.

What else does Watson bring?

Watson is the kind of player that can make you a destination. You’re pitching to Allen Robinson, you’ve got yourself a top coach and a very exciting offensive coordinator. You’ve got a vision, but you also have a QB who threw 9 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2020. Now switch that last big with a guy who threw for 4823 yards and 33 touchdowns. I think Allen Robinson is a little more interested now than he was 5 minutes ago.

If you’re a business, he also makes sense commercially but I want to keep it all about football here.

Can we afford Watson?

Watson’s contract is a big one. He signed a 4-year $156 million contract which included a $27 million signing bonus and $110.7 million guaranteed. In 2021 he’s set to make a very modest $15.9 million, but in 2022 it jumps to $40 million and $42 million in 2023. It’s a lot of money, but you have to pay a lot of money for top talent in this league. Just ask the Chiefs, Steelers, Seahawks and Packers, the thing with all those teams? They’re consistently good and still manage to pay top $ for a QB and be competitive with the rest of their roster.

The Jets could have close to $100 million in cap space after cuts this year, they have more than enough money to fit Watson under the cap and target other top free agents to come and play with him in New York, while also having first-round picks in the next two years to inject talent in a cost-effective way.

Conclusion

The Jets have the draft capital and they have the cap space. If Watson is open to coming to the Jets, they absolutely have to make the call.