The Dallas Cowboys' No. 1 offseason priority is to make peace with their quarterback. The Houston Texans' No. 1 offseason priority is the same.
But what if they can't?
Texans owner Cal McNair recently went public and took the entire blame for the entire mess - the conflict with QB Deshaun Watson and more ... and now may be going in private to heal the wounds.
The Texans boss has reached out to quarterback Watson privately and offered a personal apology for the dysfunctional behavior of the team's front office in this offseason ... and maybe for problems that proceed this offseason.
That could be that in Houston, in a good way. Hire a head coach (Eric Bieniemy?) that fits the locker-room-leadership vision the team MVP has shared, and the Texans get back to building.
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, meanwhile, recently went public with the observation that QB Dak Prescott has all "the leverage'' in contract negotiations as the two sides hope to end a two-year dance, avoid another pricy franchise tag, and agree to a long-term deal. And then the Cowboys get back to building.
But what if unhappy Deshaun stays unhappy? And what if unsigned (long-term) Dak stays unsigned (long-term)?
That brings up priority No. 2, for any NFL team: Talent evaluation. Cover every base. Look under every stone.
READ MORE: Deshaun Replacing Dak? What Are The Odds?
While some find it outrageous to learn that inside NRG Stadium, the Texans are actually fielding trade inquiries, it is in fact - now that they've put themselves in this pinch - somebody's job to answer the phone. Similarly, in Dallas, while the Jones family continues to insist that Dak is the hub of the wheel at The Star, it is somebody's job to contemplate ...
So we'll do the same here, without trying to be too incendiary about it all.
In the coming weeks, assume the Texans' chasm with Watson remains wide. They will get trade offers featuring picks; they will likely not get a trade offer featuring a player who is actually comparable to, and who plays the same "most important position of QB'' as, Watson.
That would be Dak Prescott.
At the same time, assume the Cowboys' negotiations with Dak do not progress. A long-term solution to employing Prescott - or a Prescott-level QB - must be found.
That could be Deshaun Watson.
For all of this to work, Dallas would have to get Dak to sign the franchise tag (so he's under contract) with the understanding that he would be traded to the Texans, who would make it clear that they'd pay Prescott the contract ($40 million APY?) he desires.
Meanwhile, Watson would have to agree to waive his no-trade clause (likely not a problem to move to Dallas) and would become the Cowboys' "hub.''
That's a lot of hoops to jump through. But there's more: What about the finances involved?
Taking on Watson would not be burdensome for his new team. The Texans are responsible for his $27 million in prorated signing bonus (from last fall's extension) so the new team gets a 25-year-old superstar under contract for five more years with salary-cap figures of about $16 million, $40 million, $42 million $37 million and $32 million.
This would represent a bonanza for Dallas, which would be getting an arguably superior player to Dak, a comparable person and leader of character ... for far less money.
Any trade of Watson is not such a bonanza for Houston, however. One, a deal would carry a charge of $5.6 million in dead money for the Texans. That's not a killer. But two, they'd have to budget for the new $40 mil QB in Prescott. That's tougher - though as with Watson's deal, the Texans can construct, say, a four-year, $160 million deal for Prescott with money spread out in such a way as to leave them some cap elbow room in 2021.
Houston will have other options, should it go down this road. Will a team offer three first-rounders? That's tempting, and more financially affordable than the Dak idea. But it still leaves the Texans without an established standout QB. Discuss a Miami deal that delivers Tua Tagovailova to Houston, or a Jets deal that delivers Sam Darnold? Maybe. But are they "established standout QB's''?
Again, the easiest dual path includes none of the above. Houston, quit betraying your QB. Dallas, consummate the relationship with yours. Move on together. But ...
We know many Texans fans are highly uncomfortable, even irritated, with this conversation. We know that Dak supporters will be as well. But Dak-for-Deshaun deserves to be discussed, reasonably and soberly ... by analysts of the two challenging situations - and by the teams prospectively involved as well.