NY Jets, Deshaun Watson Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
The NY Jets continue to be heavily tied to rumors regarding the future status of Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. And following his official trade request, the rumor mill has only heated up once more.
In reality, the Texans have known of Watson’s desires for quite some time now. While the report didn’t come out until Thursday, the trade request itself was reportedly made official over a week ago.
But now that everything is out in the open, teams will certainly be calling — even more so than before. One of those teams will be the Jets.
The Jets are one of the few teams with the potential assets to get a deal done. Combine that with their desire/need and financial flexibility and you have a potential trade partner that makes a ton of sense.
Of course, it will take an unprecedented haul to make it happen. But this is an unprecedented situation.
Around a week ago, we laid out three possible trade packages the Jets could consider in a trade for Watson. But given the recent news — and given that there are plenty more possibilities to explore — we decided to put together a list of three additional scenarios.
Whether it’s straight draft picks or something more creative involving an additional player or two, the Jets should explore all their options as they look to add a player who would immediately become arguably the best quarterback in franchise history.
Yes, that includes the legendary Joe Namath.
With that, let’s take a look at three additional trade packages the Jets could consider for Deshaun Watson.
Next: 1. Whitney Mercilus cap relief
NY Jets, Deshaun Watson Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
1. First potential NY Jets trade package for Deshaun Watson:
The Jets are in a unique situation where they not only have the ammunition to make a deal happen, but they also have the financial flexibility to take on Watson’s contract and then some. And that flexibility could give them an edge over other teams.
The Texans have quite a few bad contracts on the books, courtesy of the Bill O’Brien era. But no contract is as poor as the one given to longtime pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus.
Mercilus has been with the organization for the past nine years and has enjoyed a very successful career. With 54 career sacks, he’s remained a cornerstone of the Texans’ defense for close to a decade now.
However, his best days are clearly behind him.
Mercilus recorded just four sacks in 2020 and was ranked as Pro Football Focus‘ worst edge defender out of a whopping 112 qualifiers. Put simply, he was downright unplayable last year.
Despite this, he’s due to make $12 million in 2021, $14.5 million in 2022, and $14 million in 2023. There is a potential out after the 2021 season, but it does come with a $3.1 million dead cap charge.
If the Jets were to take Mercilus and his awful contract of Houston’s hands, they’d be stuck with him for a year at the very least. But that would provide yet another incentive for a Texans team that finds itself in quite the cap bind.
The Jets still give up their No. 2 overall pick as well as their first-round pick in 2022. They also send Houston the No. 34 overall pick in this year’s draft and their second-rounder in 2022.
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However, they retain Seattle’s first-round picks in each of the next two years meaning that they will still have first-rounders in 2021 and 2022. That’s more draft capital than a handful of teams in the league would have.
This trade avoids giving up a third first-round pick in exchange for Mercilus’ cap relief and a package of likely high second-round picks.
It’s a scenario both teams should be happy with.
Next: 2. Straight draft picks
2. Second potential NY Jets trade package for Deshaun Watson:
If the Jets wanted to go the route that requires draft picks and only draft picks, there are a lot of different scenarios to consider. We laid out multiple options in our first list, but we explored something different this time around.
We still wanted to avoid giving up three of the Jets’ first-round picks over the next two years and this package seems like a good way to do that.
In this scenario, the Jets send the No. 2 overall pick in 2021 as well as their own second and third-round picks. They also ship away their 2022 first-round pick and 2022 second-round selection.
That’s a lot, but it doesn’t completely decimate their draft capital.
After this trade, the Jets would still have a first-round pick in each of the next two years as well as a third-round pick in 2021, all courtesy of the Jamal Adams trade.
They wouldn’t have a second-round pick in either year, but that’s the price you have to pay for a quarterback of Watson’s caliber. It won’t be cheap.
Houston doesn’t add three total first-round picks, but they do recoup the No. 2 overall pick as well as a super high second and third-round pick. In fact, picks No. 34 and 66 are actually valued at more than pick No. 23 (Seattle’s first-round pick) so this is a true win for the Texans.
But for the Jets, they manage to maintain a first-round pick in each of the next two years, something probably no other team trading for Watson would be able to say.
They acquire Watson, but can still build around him with what is projected to be a league-high in cap space and enough draft capital to get by.
This works out well for both parties.
Next: 3. The Quinnen Williams package
NY Jets, Deshaun Watson
3. Third potential NY Jets trade package for Deshaun Watson:
The Jets don’t have many valuable assets that aren’t their draft picks at the moment. Jets fans will be quick to try and throw quarterback Sam Darnold in any potential deal, which we did last time, but that scenario remains highly unlikely.
For the same reasons the Jets are likely to move on from Darnold this year, the Texans would be unlikely to ask for him in a trade. They’re much more likely to target Watson’s replacement in the draft.
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However, there is one notable asset that could be moved if the situation calls for it. That asset is named Quinnen Williams.
Williams is fresh off a dominant breakout season where the former No. 3 overall pick ranked top-five at his position in both pass-rush win rate and run-stop rate. He was, by most measures, a top-five interior defensive lineman.
And at just 23-years-old, the sky is truly the limit for Williams. Especially given the home he could find in Robert Saleh’s defense. That said, he is not untouchable.
When a player like Deshaun Watson is available, no one is untouchable.
Williams’ best days are probably still ahead of him so moving on from him seems unreasonable. But this is Deshaun Watson we’re talking about. Williams is a fantastic young player just entering his prime, but a superstar quarterback who’s also just entering his prime takes precedence.
In this scenario, the Jets still have to give up the No. 2 overall pick (that will be required in any deal so Houston can select a quarterback) and the Seahawks’ 2022 first-round pick. But that’s it.
Williams can be valued at around a first-round pick right now, perhaps a little bit more. That’s why the Jets can get away with sending Seattle’s 2022 first-rounder, instead of their own which will likely be more valuable.
Houston gets a first-round pick in each of the next two years, can select their quarterback of the future, and lands one of the best young defensive players in the NFL on a controllable contract.
The Jets land what could be the best thing to ever happen to their franchise.
Losing Quinnen Williams is not a scenario many Jets fans want to envision. But all bets are off with Watson on the table.
The Jets need to exhaust all their assets and Williams, for better or worse, is one of their greatest assets.