The situation between the Houston Texans and quarterback Deshaun Watson has gotten so bad, the star has officially requested a trade, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. And whenever a top player is hitting the trade market, fans of every single team come out of the woodwork wondering if their team will pull the trigger on a deal.
For Baltimore Ravens fans, let’s get that notion out of your heads now. While I’m sure most teams in the NFL will be interested in Watson’s services to some degree, the Ravens aren’t likely among them — even if ESPN analyst and former NFL quarterback Dan Orlovsky believes they should.
Trading for a quarterback when they already have an MVP winner under center doesn’t make any sense at face value. Even if Baltimore was interested, they’d be hard-pressed to make it work financially.
First and foremost, Pro Bowl quarterbacks aren’t often traded. Watson’s value is going to be through the roof and it wouldn’t be shocking in the slightest if Houston is able to net multiple first-round picks in exchange for him. Again, even if the Ravens were interested, it would likely cripple them over the next few drafts. And with a $10.54 million base salary in 2021, nearly all of Baltimore’s available salary-cap space would be eaten up. Between the financial and draft cost, trading for Watson would all but ensuring the team can’t afford to add weapons around him. Is that a situation any Ravens fan would be excited about or could see the team succeeding with? The answer is pretty resoundingly, “no.”
But I contend Watson wouldn’t really be much of an upgrade for Baltimore in the first place. While analysts and even fans are quick to bash Lamar Jackson at every turn, their stats aren’t really that different.
Take a look at their career averages without each player’s rookie campaign:
Passing yards (per game)
Passing TD %
Adjusted passing yards-per-attempt
Rushing yards (per game)
Rushing TDs (per game)
Total yards (passing and rushing) per game
Total TDs (passing and rushing) per game
Total turnovers (fumbles and INTs) per game
As you can see, in nearly every major category, Jackson and Watson are so close as to make little difference. But Jackson does beat out Watson in overall value where he’s responsible for more touchdowns and fewer turnovers per game on average while falling just a handful of yards behind.
It’s also worth pointing out that Jackson missed two games (rested Week 17 of the 2019 season and missed Week 12 with COVID-19) and sat out the fourth quarter of several other games due to Baltimore’s success. That missing time equates to several full games worth of statistics missing in our comparison, which actually points to Jackson being better than what we’re able to prove statistically here.
There’s no argument that Watson is the more complete passer right now. But he does have an extra year and 16 more starts under his belt, which is effectively an eternity when it comes to quarterback development. And Jackson’s best weapon has been tight end Mark Andrews while Watson has had the likes of DeAndre Hopkins, Brandin Cooks, and Will Fuller to throw to.
I know it’s fashionable to hate on Jackson and with Watson potentially available, it seems like an easy decision. But hopefully, I’ve pointed out how Jackson is far better than some are giving him credit for and how little sense it would make for the Ravens to trade for Watson. Anything can happen but Ravens fans should be hoping Watson leaves the AFC entirely rather than making his way to Baltimore.