A Definitively Subjective Ranking of Deshaun Watson's Most Fun Trade Destinations | NFL News, Rankings and Statistics | PFF

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A Definitively Subjective Ranking of Deshaun Watson's Most Fun Trade Destinations

Detroit, Michigan, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) runs out of the pocket during the second quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

You might have heard that the Houston Texans and Deshaun Watson haven’t been seeing eye to eye over the past few months.

Basically, the organization didn’t give Watson a heads up that it was trading all-world WR DeAndre Hopkins last offseason. The issues were seemingly resolved after CEO Cal McNair said he “welcomes Watson's input, respects his opinion and wants the star quarterback to be happy.” Unfortunately, ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s sources state: “Watson offered input on potential general manager candidates, but the Texans neither considered nor consulted with those endorsed by their franchise quarterback.”

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Some old-timers such as Brett Favre have offered their opinions on the matter, with Favre stating: “I think you play. You get paid a ton of money to do a certain job and just do it and let the chips fall where they may. I think we make too much money to voice an opinion, but I’m not saying he’s wrong. Again, I think it’s a different day and time, and it will be interesting to see how the organization handles it.”

The gist: Watson is incredibly unhappy with the Texans’ organization for basically ignoring his input on team-related matters and has requested a trade. Whether or not you agree with the 25-year-old signal-caller’s rationale, we should all recognize that Watson is anybody’s idea of a top-five QB. Basically any metric identified him as such during the 2020 season:

  • PFF passing grade: 91.5 (No. 3 among 44 QBs with 100-plus dropbacks)
  • Yards per attempt: 8.9 (No. 1)
  • Adjusted completion rate: 78.5% (tied for No. 9)
  • QB rating: 113.4 (No. 2)

Not a numbers person? Fine. Watch the film.

Only the Lions defense allowed a higher EPA per play than the Texans in 2020; please don’t be that person in your group of friends who points to the Texans’ 4-12 record as a reason to fade Watson in the future.

We should all agree that the former No. 12 overall pick is on the short list of the NFL’s very best quarterbacks. More than half the league should be vying for Watson’s services at this time, and plenty more would likely be as well off, if not better, with him as their franchise QB compared to whoever is currently under center.

Because 1) it’s February, 2) Watson is awesome, and 3) playing QB match-maker is fun, I’ve decided to break down exactly where all 31 non-Houston franchises rank when it comes to being the most-fun destination for the Texans’ three-time Pro Bowler. This means that I’ll be including franchises like the Chiefs that have no business concerning themselves with Watson. I’ll certainly face some ridicule on the Twittersphere for this decision; nevertheless I’ve determined this to be an important task to complete before some sort of resolution is reached for anybody’s idea of a true top-five QB. Salary cap and realistic trade packages won’t be considered in this study: We’re having fun, people.

Without further ado: Watson’s top-31 potential trade destinations ranked subjectively from most fun to least fun.

This would legit be awesome

1. San Francisco 49ers
2. New Orleans Saints

We’ve seen both Kyle Shanahan and Sean Payton field nearly annual elite offenses over the course of their respective careers. Neither enters 2021 with a great answer under center:

  • Shanahan led the 49ers to the Super Bowl while asking Jimmy Garoppolo to throw a total of 27 times in the Divisional Round and NFC Championship. The definition of a game-manager, Jimmy G is fine, but it’s about time Shanahan gets a signal-caller capable of forcing defenses to defend every square inch of the field.
  • Jameis Winston is the favorite to take over for Drew Brees next season. The former No. 1 overall pick is incredibly fun to watch for better and (mostly) for worse; Watson’s performance almost exclusively falls in the former bucket. Contemplating the disturbing reality that Taysom Hill could start 16 games under center isn’t a good way to complement a cup of morning coffee, so I’ll refrain from doing so.

Both the 49ers and Saints boast top-tier defenses along with enough skill-position talent to make either a top-two contender in the NFC with Watson under center. One time @God.

I don’t like it, I love it

3. Pittsburgh Steelers
4. Denver Broncos
5. Carolina Panthers
6. Minnesota Vikings

Each of these teams boasts the sort of skill-position talent to take a lonely football analyst from six to midnight in a hurry when considering the possibility of Watson entering the fold.

I mean yeah, that’ll absolutely work

7. Miami Dolphins
8. Dallas Cowboys
9. Indianapolis Colts
10. Cleveland Browns

The Dolphins don’t have a ton of excess skill-position talent (at the moment); the Cowboys already have a franchise QB; the Colts already made their play at the position with Carson Wentz; and there’s little reason for the Browns to move on from Baker Mayfield after his excellent bounce-back 2020 campaign.

With that said: Watson would instantly elevate each of these teams to legit Super Bowl contendership as early as 2021.

We’ve seen teams sacrifice above-average QB play for the chance at something truly special (Alex Smith for Colin Kaepernick, Alex Smith for Patrick Mahomes, sorry Alex Smith), and there’s no debating that dropping Watson into any of these franchises would lead to sky-high optimism moving forward. This is true even if each respective franchise doesn’t necessarily *need* to actively pursue an upgrade at the position.

Easy meow, but give me two beers and I’m in

11. New England Patriots
12. New York Giants
13. Washington Football Team
14. New York Jets
15. Jacksonville Jaguars

Giving Bill Belichick another All-World QB to reinvigorate the Patriots’ evil empire might not sound like a ton of fun, but we shouldn’t let one down year (that truly wasn’t even that bad) distract from the reality that this franchise knows how to win better than just about anyone else. OC Josh McDaniels having a high-en,  dual-threat QB in his prime could instantly get this offense back into the league’s top-10 units with just a little bit of outside help at receiver (similar to the Dolphins).

Watching Jason Garrett clap after every Watson score would get annoying, and the Jets aren’t exactly the sort of proven franchise that we should feel great about continuing to develop him. Still, Houston’s status as a low-end market has resulted in too many people around the world not recognizing Watson as the legit top-five QB he’s been; this wouldn’t be an issue with either New York squad.

The Football Team hasn’t earned the benefit of the doubt in just about anything related to player development over the years. However, this defense boasts a terrifying plethora of high-end pass-rushers, and the offense is another receiver away from having an underrated collection of skill-position talent. Not ideal, but at least we could fully expect Watson to consistently be playing into January.

The idea of trading away the chance to draft Trevor Lawrence is scary, but wouldn’t most be happy if Lawrence winds up becoming what Watson already is? There are some fun pieces already in this offense (D.J. Chark, Laviska Shenault, James Robinson), but adding Watson would immediately press the gas on this Urban Meyer-led rebuild.

There’s another QB in town but screw it

16. Atlanta Falcons
17. Buffalo Bills
18. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
19. Los Angeles Rams
20. Las Vegas Raiders
21. Los Angeles Chargers
22. Seattle Seahawks
23. Baltimore Ravens
24. Arizona Cardinals
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Cincinnati Bengals
27. Green Bay Packers
28. Kansas City Chiefs

Each of these squads has either a 1) proven stud QB, or 2) young talent that shouldn’t be moved on from. And yet, it wouldn’t take much thought management for any of these franchises to feel good about their chances at competing for the Lombardi Trophy with Watson under center.

The latter two teams could arguably be last on this list due to the reality that Watson would likely not start over Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes. Remember: This list is about *fun*. The Packers or Chiefs trading for Watson wouldn’t make a lick of sense, but watching them (theoretically) lean on a two-QB offense more than ever would be entertaining as hell. Mahomes and Watson on the field at the same time for 15 snaps a game? In this economy? Sign me up.

All of a sudden Houston doesn’t sound that bad

29. Chicago Bears
30. Philadelphia Eagles

Sheesh. We’re looking at arguably the bottom two offenses in the league when it comes to receiver talent. These aging and cap-strapped rosters could quickly lead to Watson continuing to elevate bad teams to average/above-average results at best.

This isn’t to suggest that Watson couldn’t lead either team to the playoffs in 2021; just realize the longer-term future wouldn’t be nearly as optimistic here as it might be elsewhere. It’d make plenty of sense for both franchises to make a play at Watson; that doesn’t mean we have to like it.

I would be legit pissed off if this happened

31. Detroit Lions

Yes, T.J. Hockenson and D’Andre Swift are fun. Maybe the Lions even decide to bring back Kenny Golladay.

That’s it. That’s the “allure” of Watson going to Detroit. Honestly my favorite part about this theoretical signing would be the Jared Goff element. Would kneecap-biter enthusiast Dan Campbell force his pair of signal-callers to compete in some sort of gladiator-themed competition in order to determine who starts? Would Goff simply accept that being a full-time backup QB might be more fun than actively getting teed off on in the pocket every Sunday? Would Watson simply demand another trade?

The Lions have a few solid pieces, but this is still anybody’s idea of a bottom-five offense when it comes to surrounding skill-position talent. The Lions are currently set to pay the following wide receivers money to play football in 2021: Geronimo Allison, Quintez Cephus, Victor Bolden and Tom Kennedy. Sheesh.

Slotting the Lions as the No. 31 team in the Watson sweepstakes is certainly akin to kicking a man that’s already been down for something around half a century. Still, rules are rules, and I simply can’t imagine a less-fun version of Watson than him wasting away in silver and blue for the next decade.

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