For much of the last two to three seasons, the Jacksonville Jaguars took home the dishonor of being tabbed the AFC South's most dysfunctional team.
Well, that ended this year. The Jaguars were shoved from the top spot by the Houston Texans, who have only strengthened their grasp as the division's most tumultuous franchise.
The biggest reason why? Despite the Texans once again dominating the Jaguars on the field last year, the Texans have continued to plunge into chaos due to a dysfunctional front office and a fracturing relationship with quarterback Deshaun Watson, with the relationship's current low points playing out in the media.
First, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported that Watson was upset with the Texans due to how the team conducted the search for its next general manager. The Texans hired longtime New England Patriots front office member Nick Caserio as general manager last week, but the team kept Watson out of the loop in the process.
Then ESPN's Chris Mortensen added to the already raging fire surrounding Watson and the Texans this past weekend, reporting that Watson could potentially try to force the Texans' hand and make a trade happen.
There have already been comparisons drawn to the Watson/Texans situation and the public divorce between the Jaguars and Jalen Ramsey in 2019. While both feature high-profile players who are the faces of their teams, there isn't much that is similar between the situations aside from the fact that the two share an agent.
The biggest difference, though? Trading Ramsey clearly made the Jaguars a worse team, but that is nothing like the step backward the Texans would take if they traded Watson. Ramsey will likely be a Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback when it is all said and done, but that doesn't equate to the value of an established franchise quarterback.
And to an extent, perhaps Watson's saga with the Texans could even exceed the drama provided from the public divorce between Ramsey and the Jaguars. We saw the potential for this on Tuesday when Andre Johnson, arguably the best player in Texans history, advocated for Watson to stand his ground against the franchise. Several other former high-profile Texans, such as DeAndre Hopkins and D.J. Reader, shared Johnson's opinion.
So, what kind of impact could Watson's uncertain future with the Texans have on the Jaguars as they move forward? We take a look at a few scenarios here.
The hypothetical question of valuing Deshaun Watson against the No. 1 overall pick
First of all is the question that has been posed over and over on social media by Jaguars fans, and even some national analysts, over the past week.
Would it make sense for the Jaguars to trade for Watson and involve the No. 1 overall pick in the deal.
The short answer? Maybe, but it is so unlikely that even giving it this much attention is likely overdoing it.
If the Jaguars were to turn Watson's uncertainty standing with Houston into a trade, good arguments could be made for both sides winning and losing the deal. The Jaguars would undoubtedly get an established star quarterback to build around (and who they could easily afford), while the Texans could get the No. 1 overall pick and Trevor Lawrence to replace Watson.
But why would either team do this? Sure the Texans likely know they are on shaky ground with Watson, but you don't see franchise quarterbacks who haven't even entered their fifth season traded for draft picks -- even if that pick is No. 1 overall. For as talented as Lawrence is, it would be hard to imagine the Texans would be willing to lose Watson for a player who has yet to take a snap in the NFL.
As for the Jaguars, do they really want to be the team known for giving Lawrence to their division rivals? Trading away Lawrence for Watson would be immensely poetic considering the Jaguars could have just, you know, picked Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft.
So in short, sure it could benefit both teams. But there aren't many trades made between divisional rivals to begin with, let alone ones that involve two franchise quarterbacks. Ultimately it may be a fun idea to kick around, but the feasibility of it is incredibly low.
How Houston's era of disarray could aid the Jaguars
This is where things could get interesting for the Jaguars. If momentum continues to build on Watson's end for a trade, then there aren't many many reasons to think he couldn't make it happen. Recent examples have shown us that players hold the power when it comes to these situations, with Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, Stefon Diggs and other players all forcing trades.
None of these players were quarterbacks, however. Watson's influence and leverage over the Texans is that much greater, so this entire situation really hinges on his feelings toward the franchise that drafted him in 2017.
So, how could Houston's plunge into weekly rumor mill columns impact the Jaguars? Simply put, it would give the Jaguars a leg up in a division they have won just once since joining it in 2002.
The Jaguars have more often than not been dominated in the AFC South over the last 18 seasons, finishing in last place seven times. The Jaguars have only come in second place four times, so they have finished in the cellar of the AFC South more often than they have even been a top-two team in the division.
Watson exiting the division would mean the AFC South's quarterbacks would be Lawrence, Ryan Tannehill, and whatever the Indianapolis Colts end up doing at quarterback. Watson would clearly be the cream of the crop of this group, at least in 2021. Without him, Lawrence would likely immediately be the most skilled quarterback in the division.
When is the last time the Jaguars have been able to say that? The answer is likely never.
Watson himself has done a great deal of damage to the Jaguars. The Jaguars have defeated the Texans only twice in the last seven seasons, going 12-2 against them in that span. Watson has started the last six of those games, and he hasn't lost to the Jaguars a single time in that period. The only times the Jaguars have defeated the Texans during Watson's career are two games from 2017 that Watson didn't start.
Watson's numbers against the Jaguars help explain his stellar record against the team. He has completed 63.59% of his passes for 1,475 yards with nine touchdowns and just three interceptions. Add in 212 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns, and Watson has been a major thorn in Jacksonville's side for years. He is known in the locker room as one of the toughest opponents the team sees each year for a reason.
In short, removing Watson from the Texans would be a boon for the Jaguars because it would take away arguably the most talented and impactful player in the entire division. It would almost be like the Jaguars earning a game-changing player of their own in terms of overall impact.
Losing a franchise quarterback due to overall incompetence would also hurt the Texans in other ways. Good luck attracting top-tier talent after running a franchise quarterback -- and the best quarterback in team history -- out of town, after all.
The Jaguars struggled to defeat the Texans before Houston ever drafted Watson. With Watson, the Jaguars have failed over and over. His potential departure from Houston would be celebrated rigorously in Jacksonville for exactly that reason.
Will Watson actually be moved during the offseason? Maybe, maybe not. But if he is, the Jaguars will be among the teams that will benefit the most.