Texans QB Deshaun Watson's reported dream of joining Jets has 7 obstacles

Ralph Vacchiano
·6 min read
Deshaun Watson runs against Jets 2018
Deshaun Watson runs against Jets 2018

The Jets are now reportedly the team Deshaun Watson wants to join, and he's certainly left enough social media bread crumbs to make that easy to believe. He's clearly unhappy in Houston. He seems to like the Jets and their new coach, Robert Saleh.

But can the 25-year-old, three-time Pro Bowl quarterback really orchestrate an escape to New York?

If that's really what he wants, it's certainly possible, but getting Watson into a Jets uniform isn't as easy as it seems. The quarterback is definitely in good position to win this high-stakes game of Texans Hold'em, but he doesn't hold all the cards.

Here's a look at what else has to happen to make his apparent dream -- and the dreams of so many Jets fans -- come true:

He has to ask, and then convince, the Texans to trade him

This is somewhat notable: Watson hasn't asked for a trade yet. He also hasn't spoken to the Texans' new coach, because they don't have one. And while there was a report that said the new coach won't matter, it's best to wait and see. If they do hire Eric Bieniemy or Leslie Frazier, who appear to be the two finalists, give them a chance to convince Watson to buy in to what they're trying to do.

And if they can't? There's still no guarantee the Texans will trade him. After all, why would they? Because he's unhappy? So what? Teams don't just give up on 25-year-old franchise quarterbacks because of a disagreement. This is a quarterback league and quarterbacks are the most important commodity maybe in all of sports. Teams spend years looking for players like Watson. It's going to take a lot to convince Houston to move him.

If they don't, he may have to make some noise

So far Watson hasn't said anything. All the speculation has been through media leaks and social media hints. If he really wants to force Houston's hand, he's going to have to do better than that. He'd have to convince them that his unhappiness could disrupt their franchise, that there's no fixing their irreconcilable differences. He may have to do a scorched-earth interview like the one Jamal Adams did where he ripped the Jets' coach and GM and basically convinced them they had no other choice but to trade him away.

He may have to threaten to hold out

This comes with the noise. He'll have to make the Texans believe that he simply won't play for them again. The problem with that is that no one will actually believe him. He'd have to be willing to leave a chunk of his $10.5 million salary on the table, plus be willing to absorb fines of $50,000 per day -- fines that can't be waived when his holdout ends.

And besides, what would the threat of a summer holdout do anyway? By the summer, most teams that were interested in Watson would have moved on and the trade market will have dried up. So the Texans would know this was nothing but an empty threat.

The price has to be reasonable

What's reasonable? The general consensus around the NFL is that the asking price will start at three first-round picks, plus. But that's only the start. What if the Texans want all four of the first-rounders the Jets have in the next two drafts? What if they want Quinnen Williams, too?

There's a theory some have that you can never pay too much for a franchise quarterback, but of course there'll be a line somewhere. If they Texans really don't want to deal Watson they can set the price obnoxiously high so no one will pay it, and then tell him that they tried.

And remember, Jets GM Joe Douglas wants to build through the draft and there are indications he thinks he can build a winner around Sam Darnold. He's not going to give away every chip he has if he thinks he's got a good quarterback who can be a winner if he's surrounded by a better team.

He has to convince the Texans to do it sooner than later

The deadline for this deal is probably April 29, the first day of the NFL Draft. Surely the Texans will want picks in this year's draft in return and they'll need to know if they have to draft a quarterback.

More realistically, though, the date is March 17 -- the start of free agency -- especially for the Jets. They're going to be players in the free-agent, wide-receiver market -- and you can bet those top wide receivers are going to want to know who'll be throwing them the ball on their new team. Plus, the Jets will want to know if they still have the high draft picks to fill any of their other needs, or if they'll have to spend big at other positions, too.

The Jets have to believe that Watson really is that much better than Darnold (or a rookie)

Yes, Watson is better. But how much better? Because the Jets' choice, should a deal ever materialize, is as simple as this: Are they better off with Watson or with Darnold and the four players they take in the first round the next two years? Obviously, it depends on what the Texans want, but the point is they are going to have to give up multiple talented, inexpensive players to get one guy. And maybe more considering they could trade down from the second pick in the draft and acquire even more picks.

Think of it another way: It's Darnold, or maybe Williams, plus a top receiver, a pass rusher, another young tackle and a top corner. And then all those things they give away become things they'll have to buy in free agency instead.

Douglas has to change his timetable and entire plan

Mortgaging the future for Watson is a sea change for Douglas, who has always planned to build a long-term contender through the draft. If he gives up most of the draft capital he acquired, his plan goes from building a long-term contender to building a short-term contender. He'll have to go big in free agency to supplement Watson since he won't have the draft picks. And that would very much turn the Jets into a win-now team.

That's not a bad thing, obviously. But he has to think he can actually do it a lot faster than he originally thought.