The Denver Broncos are once again a favorite in a burgeoning quarterback chase. Despite the upward trend of the second-year Drew Lock to close out the 2020 season, new GM George Paton has been, at the very least, kicking the tires to upgrade the most important position in football.
With the Los Angeles Rams coming up victorious in the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes, the eyes of the NFL now turn to Houston and 25-year-old superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson. After a pair of laughable seasons under former head coach and general manager Bill O’Brien, Watson was told he would have a hand in the hiring of the team's next general manager and head coach. When that did not come to pass, Watson finally had enough of the Texans organization as a whole and has demanded a trade.
Where will Watson go? What would he cost? Will the Texans even trade him at all?
These are questions that will continue to percolate until a trade occurs or Watson gives in and laces back up for the Texans. Interestingly, though, ascertaining where Watson might land is crystallizing.
According to ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler, the Broncos have been specifically named as a team Watson has interest in being traded to this offseason.
“I checked in with a source. Deshaun Watson has a list of teams that he’s intrigued by. He’s not pigeonholeing anything but he’s got a list. I didn’t get all the teams but I was told that the Denver Broncos and the San Francisco 49ers are two of them,” Fowler tweeted Friday.
So you're telling me the Broncos have a chance? It's starting to add up, especially after 9NEWS' Mike Klis reported that Paton has received 'assurances' from Watson's camp that Denver would be an attractive landing spot.
What Watson could command in a trade could be unprecedented. A top-5 quarterback in the NFL at 25 just doesn’t become available — ever.
Given the value of the quarterback position, there is almost no way the Texans can get an equitable return on value as no team could offer up a package of true value without absolutely gutting the entire team. Any trade for Watson will likely be a 'bargain' overall given his play, his position, and his age.
Complicating the Watson trade is his 'no trade' clause in his contract. Essentially, assuming the Texans are forced to trade him, he can somewhat dictate the terms of the trade deal.
Teams such as the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets can offer trade packages with draft-pick resources the Broncos simply cannot match (given teams can only trade draft capital up to three years into the future). This means the Jets with five first-rounders combined in the 2021-2023 drafts, on top of No. 2 overall this year, and the Dolphins with four firsts including the No. 3 overall pick this year.
Meanwhile, Denver only has one first in each of the next three drafts, though Paton is holding the No. 9 pick. If the deal for Watson was an open market trade, it is almost inconceivable to imagine Denver being able to outbid the Jets and the Dolphins. However, this is not an open-market trade as Watson holds some serious leverage.
According to Fowler’s source, the team that had been the odds-on favorite to land Watson (the Jets) is not on Watson’s list.
“I was told the Jets… probably not… but maybe more so the Dolphins as far as viability," Fowler reported.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, many around the league also believe that Watson will not be traded and that GM Nick Caserio is 'dug in' on his position of not trading the superstar quarterback.
This could drag out well into the offseason as a game of chicken between Watson and the Texans and potentially into next season. The Watson saga is far from over, but the Broncos being listed as one of his favorite destinations gives intrigue to the fans. It makes sense given the up and coming offense littered with high draft capital on the offensive side of the ball in Denver.
Where and if Watson will be trade remains to be seen, but there is more smoke connecting him to Denver and that should excite everyone. In order to compete in the arms race that is the AFC West vs. Patrick Mahomes, a team needs its own superstar quarterback.
Watson would be just that.