Source weighs in on where Jets fall on Deshaun Watson's trade wish list

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Ralph Vacchiano
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Deshaun Watson points during Jets game 2018
Deshaun Watson points during Jets game 2018

If the Houston Texans ever decide to trade their franchise quarterback, Deshaun Watson does have some control over his next destination.

But his preferred choice may not be the Jets.

That's not to say he wouldn't welcome a trade to New York or even approve one. But according to a source who has spoken with people close to Watson, the 25-year-old quarterback doesn't have the Jets at the top of his wish list. Despite a report that said the Jets were his top choice followed by the Miami Dolphins, the source said there are several teams to which the three-time Pro Bowler would welcome a trade.

The Jets are one of them, the source said, because of Watson's affection for new Jets coach Robert Saleh. But the Dolphins might be just as attractive, if not more, because of Watson's respect for Dolphins coach Brian Flores, their young core of talent, and the fact that there's no state income tax in Florida.

"Really, though, the top of his list might be, 'Anywhere but Houston,'" the source said. "If he really wants out, why would he say, 'No,' to any trade?"

The answer to that is that Watson, who has reportedly requested a trade, likely wouldn't veto any deal. And even if he tried to wield his "no-trade" clause to choose his next team, the reality is he doesn't currently have the leverage. The Texans have made it clear they have no intention of trading him, according to multiple league sources, and if they don't have to, no matter what Watson says and does.

And if they do decide to trade him, they're not likely to settle for a lesser deal for a franchise quarterback just to make Watson happy. Their best play, in that case, would be to take the best deal they're offered. If Watson vetoes it, they can just keep him -- or at least threaten to keep him -- whether he likes it or not.

Obviously, things could change if Watson changes tactics. So far, both he and his agent, David Mulugheta, have remained mostly silent on the topic of what Watson wants, though his agent did use Twitter last week to deny reports that Watson would refuse to participate in any of the Texans' offseason activities. Watson could speak out, perhaps by doing a scorched-earth interview where he rips the Texans organization, just like Jamal Adams did right before the Jets traded him. That could certainly make the Texans decide to at least begin looking into a possible deal.

And Watson could hold out, despite what his agent tweeted. It's unlikely his absence from the offseason program or minicamps would put any pressure on the Texans, especially with the NFL's offseason likely to be all virtual again due to the ongoing pandemic. Things could change if Watson holds out during training camp or even into the regular season.

The problem with a holdout, though, is it's expensive. Watson can be fined $95,877 for missing the spring minicamp, then $50,000 per day in training camp and $620,000 (one week of his salary) for each preseason game. That's nearly $4 million in irrevocable fines before Opening Day. And then, when the regular season starts, it's another $620,000 per week for every game he skips.

It's unclear if Watson would be willing to take that big of a financial hit, especially since by the summer the trade market will have dried up since most teams will have long ago settled on their quarterback for 2021. If the Texans are going to trade him, it will almost certainly have to be before the draft, so they can get picks this year to use on a Quarterback of the Future. Some teams will want it to happen before free agency, since having Watson at quarterback could be a powerful recruiting tool.

So it really may be in his best interests not to veto any trade, if Houston chooses to trade him. The more difficult he makes the process for the Texans, the less likely he is to get what he really seems to want: A fresh start with another team.