Could the NY Jets afford to trade for Deshaun Watson?

NY Jets, Deshaun Watson Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
NY Jets, Deshaun Watson Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports /

Could the NY Jets realistically afford a trade for superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson?

The NY Jets passed on Deshaun Watson in the 2017 NFL Draft four years ago. With trade demand rumors emerging, could the Jets afford to trade for the superstar?

In the NFL offseason, rumors run wild. Whether it be a team feeling out offers for a high NFL Draft pick, as the Jets likely will, or as to where a free agent may land. Even rumors arise about changes to the NFL itself with the league heading towards a 17-game season.

However, the biggest rumor that is beginning to arise is that Houston Texans superstar quarterback Deshaun Watson could be gearing up to demand a trade.

When a team is in a full-fledged rebuild, nobody is safe. The Jets saw it last season in trading All-Pro safety Jamal Adams, despite him being the best player on the team.

Let’s be honest, the Texans are not going to deal Watson. He is the franchise quarterback they have waited decades for, and that half the NFL would dream to have. However, the Texans are in one of the worst positions in the league when it comes to the state of the roster.

Why Houston might consider dealing Deshaun Watson

According to ESPN’s Roster Management System, the Texans are set to be around $18 million over the salary cap. The team is in tough spots with multiple aging veterans due huge contracts in 2021 and has key players like Will Fuller set to be free agents.

So, right off of the bat, Houston does not have many options to add talent through free agency around him. Coming off of a 4-12 season, the Texans would have been due to pick fourth overall.

But, due to the Laremy Tunsil trade, the Miami Dolphins own their first and second-round pick this year. Houston is stuck in a rebuild, and between the cap situation and lack of draft capital, it is going to be a difficult short-term fix.

Additionally, the team elected to bring in another New England Patriots man in Nick Caserio as their general manager, just after firing Bill O’Brien. They also are the lone team with a head coach opening to not schedule an interview with Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy.

This comes as a surprise given his work with fellow 2017 first-round pick Patrick Mahomes, and the fact he was seen as the favorite for the Houston job.

Ultimately, it is easy to see where Watson would come from in wanting out. Then again, it is easy to see why Houston would ignore any offer that came their way for Watson. He is their lone asset and only hope for a brighter future.

Could the NY Jets make a compelling offer?

Taking that into consideration, the Jets would need to make an amazing offer to pry him away from Houston. Luckily, they have four first-round picks over the next two years, an additional third-round pick in 2021, and a pick in every round in 2022.

General manager Joe Douglas has always said he would explore all options to improve the roster. And Watson certainly would be a drastic improvement over any quarterback in recent Jets history, let alone all-time.

The question that then comes to mind is how much would the Jets have to give up for Watson? Watson will be 26-years-old next season, led the league in passing, totaled 37 touchdowns, and threw only seven interceptions. He also is already under contract through 2026.

With four first-round picks over the next two years, most notably second overall this year, the Jets would certainly need to depart with at least two of them. Additionally, whether it be two or three first-round picks, Houston will absolutely command a second-round pick and more in addition.

This is a guy who posted MVP-caliber numbers on a team that went 4-12. Houston would not simply just trade him for nothing. Especially given their state of the roster.

Can the NY Jets afford to make such a lucrative offer for Deshaun Watson?

Likewise, the Jets are still fixing their roster as well, and are not close to contending next season. They need weapons on offense, the offensive line needs tinkering, and the defense needs work too.

Should a deal for Watson get done, the Jets certainly would have draft capital remaining, except where does that leave them in terms of cap space?

Watson is only due about $16 million in 2021, before inflating to over $40 million through 2023. From there, there is a potential opt-out, just unlikely given his talent. In 2024 he is due $37 million, before a non-guaranteed $32 million in 2025 — when he will be only 29-years-old.

Again, this is all speculation at the moment. Who knows if the rumors of Watson potentially wanting out are true.

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Could the Texans even consider dealing him? Would the Jets even want to part with the capital necessary to acquire him?

No one knows for sure.