As the 2021 NFL offseason slowly moves along, the debates and hot takes have only intensified when it comes to quarterback Deshaun Watson and where he might end up should the Houston Texans decide they have no choice but to trade him.
The Miami Dolphins almost invariably somehow figure into the conversation because they have a lot of draft capital to offer the Houston Texans in a potential trade and they also represent an appealing destination for Watson, who could make use of the no-trade clause in his contract should he really want to play hardball with his current team.
When it comes to the Dolphins, the debate always centers around whether it's a good idea to give up a big package of picks and perhaps one or two front-line players instead of simply building around quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after they made him the fifth overall selection in the 2020 NFL draft.
Two of the latest network analysts to chime in are former NFL players Jeff Saturday and Marcus Spears, who both endorse the idea of the Dolphins being aggressive in trying to land Watson if they have the opportunity.
“In a New York minute," Spears said on the ESPN show "Get Up." "Absolutely they should. This dude affects everybody around him. We talk about a different level right now. Tua has development. He has things that he needs to do, (and) I believe Tua will eventually be a good quarterback. But this is what I already know, that Deshaun Watson is a great quarterback. We’re talking about a dude that lost his No. 1 receiver and led the league in passing. The only shining star for the Houston Texans.
"So when you look at this situation in its entirety and you think about the unprecedented moment that we have with a quarterback that just signed a long-term deal in his prime and you think about him going to another team, you ask yourself, where would he be better suited? Miami. That’s been my place since the beginning. So I like the damn social media pictures.”
Spears, in fact, listed Watson to Miami as the top offseason move he'd like to see happen.
Saturday, for so many years Peyton Manning's center with the Colts, said without hesitation that a quarterback like Watson is worth three extra wins a year.
"They won 10 games this year; with Deshaun Watson, they’re (at) 13," Saturday said. "This is how important Deshaun Watson is and how good of a football player he really is. You traded away all his strong players, his offensive line that’s been mediocre, he still had to play through that. He goes to Miami, he makes them a true contender because it’s not winning games only defensively, he can win games offensively. And what makes a difference in a franchise quarterback and a great quarterback in the NFL is that franchise guy gets you two to three wins a year. That is a big difference. You talked about Kirk Cousins and how much money he made playing the game. Deshaun Watson wins you games; that’s the difference between a franchise guy and a good quarterback in the NFL.”
In all objectivity, if we look back at the Dolphins' 2020 season, we certainly can spot two games where having Watson likely would have made a difference.
Those two are the 31-23 loss against the Seattle Seahawks and the other was the 20-13 loss at Denver. The defense deserved a lot of the blame for the Seattle loss, but the Dolphins were only 1-for-3 in the red zone and had to settle for five field goals. Against Denver, the offense was out of sync from the start and Ryan Fitzpatrick couldn't bring the Dolphins back from a 20-10 deficit after replacing Tagovailoa early in the fourth quarter.
One argument against going after Watson and staying the course with Tagovailoa is that the Dolphins obviously thought enough of him to take early in the 2020 draft and it would be regrettable to give up after only one year. Another argument is that it makes more sense for the Dolphins to use all their draft capital and cap space to acquire playmakers to put around Tagovailoa and hope he continues to develop to the point where he himself can become an elite quarterback.
But, as Spears mentioned, Tagovailoa as an elite quarterback is the hope and maybe even the expectation. With Watson, that's already a fact.
Spears went so far as to say that acquiring Watson would make the Dolphins the biggest threat to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC.
"I saw what Buffalo did, but I'm taking Deshaun before I take Josh Allen and that defense," Spears said. "I'm taking Miami's defense with Deshaun. Look, the inspired football you play when you have a guy at that position that you know you can win with, it takes it to a different level. I love how (Brian) Flores is coaching, but I do think that sometimes going in and out with Fitzmagic and Tua may have put this team in kind of an unknown territory about what their identity was offensively. The defense never had a question about what their identity was. You bring Deshaun, you answer that question. That's our quarterback. Raise the level of play of everybody around you. Oh, can he? Yeah, let me tell you why. Because he threw for the most yards without a number one receiver on his team this year. That's how good he is. Listen, this is a no-brainer. I would love to see Deshaun Watson and Josh Allen go toe to toe for years to come in that division and see who can make it out and then get to Kansas City, potentially, in the AFC Championship.”
Alain Poupart has covered the Miami Dolphins on a full-time basis since 1989. You can follow him on Twitter at @apoupartFins.
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