NFL News & Analysis

Philadelphia Eagles emerge as front-runners to land QB Deshaun Watson

Dec 13, 2020; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks on before the game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Quinn Harris-USA TODAY Sports

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson could soon be heading to the Philadelphia Eagles, according to one report by CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso.

Trapasso reported Wednesday night that “talks are heating up” between the Eagles and Texans in a trade that would send Watson to Philadelphia.

The Texans quarterback requested a trade from Houston earlier this offseason but now faces over 20 civil lawsuits accusing him of sexual assault and misconduct. He is currently sitting out of Texans practices with an injury.

Top-level compensation, as well as a no-trade clause that will dictate Watson's destination, have held up potential deals, according to sources. ProFootballTalk reported Thursday morning that “the looming possibility of prosecution” is also getting in the way of any impending trade.

The Eagles will have at least three first-round picks in the next two drafts that they could send to Houston in a deal. They will have a fourth if their former quarterback, Carson Wentz, plays 75% of snaps for the Indianapolis Colts this season. Wentz is currently sidelined with a foot injury. The Eagles’ prospective starting quarterback is 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts.

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BETTING IMPACT

The Eagles immediately become the favorites in the NFC East: Philadelphia has the worst odds in the East right now, but landing a top-three quarterback in the NFL would vault them to the odds-on favorite in one of the weakest divisions in football. 

Looming questions could hold bookmakers back: Even if the Eagles secure Watson, the question remains whether he will be available for a full 17-game schedule. With a potential suspension looming, bookmakers could be slow to react at the game level.

FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT

Watson improves the fantasy stock of the entire Eagles offense: Watson earned a 92.5 PFF grade last season, second among quarterbacks. He formed a dynamic trio with Will Fuller (17.2 PPR points per game, seventh) and Brandin Cooks (15.5, 16th). Though it remains unclear how many games Watson would be able to play in 2021, DeVonta Smith, Dallas Goedert, Travis Fulgham and Jalen Reagor will benefit from an immediate stock rise the moment he steps onto the field.

Watson's value does not change: We already know that Watson is a fantasy stud and a top-five quarterback whenever he is on the field. Still, he remains a late-round flier until there is more clarity regarding his situation. Players like Justin Fields and Trey Lance carry equally high upside at a similar draft cost with far less risk.

NFL IMPACT

Philadelphia quarterback situation takes a 180: Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts and Nate Sudfeld collectively recorded a 61.0 PFF grade for the Eagles last season, 30th in the NFL. Watson finished behind Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady in overall grade in 2020 despite a lack of support around him relative to other elite quarterbacks. 

Jalen Reagor and DeVonta Smith will get more opportunities to make plays: Hurts and Wentz ranked first and second, respectively, in uncatchable-pass rate last season among 44 quarterbacks with at least 100 pass attempts. Watson’s 17.0% uncatchable-pass rate was a top-10 mark in the league, and that number becomes more impressive when factoring in Watson’s 9.4-yard average depth of target, the third-highest in the NFL. 

A Watson trade could very well be a precursor to a Zach Ertz trade: Philadelphia cleared $14 million in 2021 cap space by restructuring the contracts given to Lane Johnson and Derek Barnett, but their work is likely not done if they bring Watson aboard. The Texans signal-caller's $10.54 million 2021 cap hit is manageable, but that number balloons to $35 million in 2022, and the Eagles would project to be about $25 million over that number.

Know tomorrow, today. Western Southern Financial Group.
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