The value of a true franchise quarterback in the NFL has never been higher than it is now. The New England Patriots know that as well as anyone.
If a franchise quarterback won’t be 26 until September and has already made three Pro-Bowl appearances while finishing with the third-highest Pro Football Focus grade in the league — despite a marginal cast of weapons and instability on the coaching staff — the value goes to another level.
The man I’m describing is the Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson, and you might have heard he wants out of his current situation. The Texans’ management has long been criticized, with the executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby the target for many of the complaints. Watson has seen his No. 1 receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, dealt by a now-former head coach in Bill O’Brien, who was fired this past season because of the team’s futility. A new general manager was hired in Nick Caserio, along with new head coach David Culley, and Watson expressed some concern.
There are rumors Culley was only hired to be a bridge to Josh McCown, and meanwhile, Watson hasn’t changed his stance.
Teams have reportedly been checking on his availability. Still, up to now, the Texans have been reportedly telling teams they aren’t trading their franchise quarterback despite his desire to leave and rampant interest across the league.
It would appear things are at a standstill, but situations like these can change. If Watson sticks to his guns, as it seems he will, the Texans might ultimately have no other choice but to grant his wishes.
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Former New York Jets general manager and current ESPN analyst Mike Tannenbaum recently appeared on Get Up (h/t NESN) on Wednesday, and he didn’t hesitate to deliver a bold prediction:
New England Patriots, we’re going to get Deshaun Watson. Nick Caserio just came from the Patriots, they know each other well. If I get Deshaun Watson — with all those other opt-outs coming back — I’m going to go to the Super Bowl. I’m gonna go beat the Kansas City Chiefs. Bill Belichick is a great competitor, he’ll do whatever it takes. We get Deshaun Watson, we’re back in the Super Bowl. New England, Tampa Bay in the Super Bowl next year in LA. Talk about a can’t-miss game.
If Tannenbaum’s prediction were to come true, calling that Super Bowl a “can’t-miss game” might be the biggest understatement of all time. A Patriots-Buccaneers Super Bowl would be the most-watched championship game in the history of American sports. On the strength of the Tom Brady-Belichick angle alone, we’re talking about a monumental event. Throw in Watson’s star power and appeal, and we’re now talking about something out of another universe.
Many things need to fall into place for the Patriots to get Watson, including outbidding several other teams who would likely be just as determined to pry him away from the Texans.
Assuming Tannenbaum is correct and the Patriots have a shot, how much is too much to offer? The consensus belief is that the Texans won’t even consider trading Watson for any fewer than three first-round picks.
There is No Price Too High
As an unquestionably elite quarterback, Watson belongs to one of the most exclusive clubs in sports.
In today’s NFL, it is nearly impossible to win a Super Bowl without a player of Watson’s caliber at his position.
Suppose the Patriots have the rare opportunity to go from the greatest quarterback in history to Watson, a proven player who can still be among the best of his era. In that case, the Patriots cannot squander the chance to acquire him because they’re worried about the number of draft picks required to make the deal.
Can a quarterback win a Super Bowl alone? Of course not, but the other pieces are far easier to come by, and you don’t let this kind of rarity pass without doing whatever it takes.
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