The Deshaun Watson situation is getting more interesting by the day, and every new development seems to offer more validity to the possibility that the Miami Dolphins could be in play for the star quarterback.
The latest report came Sunday morning via ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen, who described Watson as very angry with the Houston Texans and would consider waiving his no-trade clause to join the Dolphins.
According to multiple reports, Watson is upset about the Texans' GM and head coach searches, as well as the team's lack of bigger involvement in social justice issues.
Watson signed a four-year contract extension in September through the 2025 season that calls for a $156 million salary. The 12th overall pick in the 2017 draft, Watson has been selected to the Pro Bowl each of the past three seasons.
While Houston struggled to a 4-12 finish in 2020, Watson set career highs in passing yards (an NFL-best 4,823), touchdown passes (33) and passer rating (112.4). Watson finished in the top three in the NFL in those three categories, as well as lowest interception percentage, completion percentage and average yards per completion.
If the situation between Watson and the Texans got to the point where the quarterback requested a trade, the Dolphins would become logical trading partners not only because of what they could offer in return but also because the organization is among the most active in the NFL when it comes to social justice issues — and that would appeal to Watson.
Any package for Watson almost assuredly would have to include quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, along with draft pick compensation.
As Mortensen points out, expect both franchises to deny any possibility of a trade. The 2021 league year is tentatively scheduled to start March 17, making it the earliest date a trade could be announced.
So what would a potential Watson trade look like?
Well, it's tough to look at historical precedent because 25-year-old franchise quarterbacks just don't get traded.
Going back, we found two blockbuster trades to provide some sort of a blueprint, and one of them involves a former Dolphins player.
Yes, we're talking about Jay Cutler.
Long before he came out of retirement to join the Dolphins in 2017, Cutler was a 25-year-old quarterback coming off his first Pro Bowl appearance for the Denver Broncos.
Reports at the time suggested a sour relationship between Cutler and new head Josh McDaniels from the start, and that led Cutler to demand a trade. He was sent to the Chicago Bears along with a 2009 fifth-round pick in exchange for two first-round picks and a third-round selection along with quarterback Kyle Orton.
The other trade with some similarities was the one involving Rams running back Eric Dickerson during the 1987 season.
Dickerson was one of the best backs in the NFL when he was sent to the Indianapolis Colts in a three-way trade also involving the Buffalo Bills. In the end, the Rams' return for Dickerson was three first-round picks, three second-round picks and a pair of running backs, Greg Bell and Owen Gill.
Since Watson should be considered a lot closer to Dickerson than Cutler in terms of talent and potential impact, yes, it would be costly to trade for him.
As everyone should know by now, the Dolphins have the third and 18th overall selections in the 2021 NFL draft as well as two second-round picks — and, of course, the extra first- and second-round picks came from those same Texans.
Just offering to flip them back to Houston would be a start to any discussion, though it likely wouldn't be enough.
The Dolphins also could throw in Tua Tagovailoa in the offer and, even tough this is blasphemy to a lot of fans, it makes a lot of sense. Tagovailoa is a year removed from being the fifth overall pick and if the Texans view him as a potential franchise quarterback, that might be worth the equivalent of a couple of premium picks.
The counter argument to that, of course, would be: "Well, if he's a potential franchise quarterback, and GM Chris Grier said a few days ago he was the Dolphins' starter, then why trade him and bother going after Watson?" The reason is simple: Tua MIGHT become a potential franchise quarterback. Watson IS a franchise quarterback.
So what about the third overall pick, the 36th overall pick and Tua for Watson? That would leave the Dolphins with their own first- and-second round picks (18th and 50th) coming off a 10-6 season.
Again, this comes down to what Houston thinks of Tua. If the Texans think he's a bona fide future star, they recoup two draft picks and save a lot of money at the quarterback position while moving on from a disgruntled player.
Maybe the Texans would want more than that return, even if they think Tagovailoa is the real deal, especially if they get a lot of offers. But don't forget that Watson has veto power so he would be able to dictate his next destination if he were willing to hold out to get his way.
What potential Dolphins offers might look like already have been speculated, but we'll just point out three that kind of show a wide spectrum.
On one end, there's a "hypothetical trade" that looks too good to be true for the Dolphins and it comes from Bleacher Report, with the writer suggesting the cost for Watson could be Tagovailoa and the third overall pick.
On the other end, there's what appears to us to be a lot more realistic hypothetical trade and it comes from Adam Beasley of The Miami Herald, who suggests Tua, the Dolphins' two first-round picks and Xavien Howard as the package going to Houston for Watson.
Pro Football Focus listed trade scenarios for several teams, and their Dolphins trade package had Tua, Miami's two-first round picks this year AND their first-round pick in 2022, which seems an awfully high price.
We probably can expect more trade scenarios until this situation gets resolved one way or another.