Curran: Deshaun Watson to the Patriots? How's that work? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Deshaun Watson Saga continues to unfold in Houston. Monday morning, a throng of protestors assembled at NRG Stadium on Watson’s behalf. They left when he said they should go home because of COVID, according to social media.
The 49ers, Lions and Falcons also line up as reasonable destination points. What about the Patriots?
One key thing to remember in all of this is that Watson had a no-trade clause built into the four-year, $160 million extension he signed in September. What that practically means is that, if he convinces the Texans to trade him, he will waive the clause if he likes the destination and can invoke it if he doesn’t.
So if the situation is truly untenable and the Texans agree to move him, they can’t just shop him to the highest bidder. Which brings us back to New England.
Could the Patriots put together an eye-popping offer that would make GM Nick Caserio and Jack “Littlefinger” Easterby send Watson within the conference to a team that would vault back to the NFL’s elite with a Watson-caliber quarterback? Doubt it.
Whether it’s picks, players or a combination of both, the Patriots are low on resources. They have the 15th and 47th picks in April’s draft and nobody would bet on them bottoming out so that their 2022 pick is a top-five selection.
Their most tradeable player is Stephon Gilmore. But he’ll be 31 in September and is entering the last year of a contract that’s grown obsolete. Any team acquiring him would probably be on the hook for a new contract that would have a total value of about $20 million annually. Or he’d be a one-year rental at a salary he’s quite likely not happy with.
After him? J.C. Jackson, Chase Winovich, Josh Uche, Kyle Dugger, Mike Onwenu, Damien Harris, Joejuan Williams, Jarrett Stidham and N’Keal Harry are all young players on their rookie deals. But some look like possible cornerstones – Jackson, Onwenu, Harris, Winovich and Dugger in particular – while the rest are treading water or slowly sinking.
Even if we play it out, a package of Jackson, Dugger, Harris and the 2020 and 2021 first-rounders might not be enough to entice Houston given the void they’ll be creating at quarterback. That would also set back the Patriots' rebuild and force them to replenish with more expensive veteran players through free agency and positions that are already locked down with home-grown guys.
Doesn’t seem like a Belichickian plan at all. And even if he did go all-in like that, would Watson waive his no-trade clause to come here? Again, doubt it.
Watson’s biggest gripe is having his request for input ignored by owner Cal McNair in the hiring of Caserio. Watson wants a seat at the table when it comes to decision-making. Meanwhile, Belichick had Tom Brady at the kid’s table for 20 seasons. Belichick isn’t – at 68 – going to rush to leverage the Patriots' immediate future to acquire a player who wants a say in roster-building. Especially since the roster-building Watson’s witnessed in his NFL career has been the equivalent of striking matches and throwing them at puddles of gasoline.
Watson’s spent his career working with management people who were largely formed or came to prominence thanks to their time in Foxboro. Why would he want to go to the franchise that spawned all the people he doesn’t want to work with anymore?
Watson Watch may go on for months. But the Patriots will be mere spectators.