March 17, 2021
There are not many players worth scrapping your entire offseason plans and potentially altering the entire course of your franchise for. More often than not, their quarterbacks, as we all know that's the most important position on the football field and unlike any other in all of sports.
If you can find the right QB, you can cover a lot of other mistakes. And if they're good enough, everything else just seems to fall into place. Deshaun Watson is dangerously close to being one of those players — and perhaps that's why the Eagles popped up in trade rumors for the disgruntled Texans QB who has been looking to get out of Houston and into greener pastures.
Whether or not those pastures are Eagles green or Jets green or Dolphins green (is teal green?) remains to be seen, as the Texans have remained steadfast in their position that they're not trading Watson, who they selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft and has seen the team systematically dismantled around him, first last season with the trade of DeAndre Hopkins and continuing this offseason with the release of J.J. Watt, the two biggest names on the roster aside from Watson.
But do the Eagles actually make sense as a trade partner? The prevailing wisdom says no, not just because of what he would cost to acquire, but also because of the ripple effect adding Watson would have on the rest of the roster and salary cap.
There are few trade targets who would be worth it though, and Watson might be one of them, especially since getting the QB right is the toughest step in any team's rebuild. With the news of the Eagles' reported interest in Watson still relatively fresh, let's take a look at what the local media thinks of the team adding a big-name quarterback to the roster with a new edition of What They're Saying...
Over at NBC Sports Philadelphia, Dave Zangaro is among those who think the Eagles would be foolish not to at least look into acquiring Watson, even if they don't ultimately go through with it. He, like most, agrees that it's unlikely, but seems to be higher on the idea than many of the others we've included below...
OK, so this still seems unlikely, but the part about owner Jeffrey Lurie being involved in the QB discussion definitely jibes with what we’ve heard from the NovaCare Complex. Just recently, we heard a report from ESPN that Lurie instructed Roseman and the front office to build the team around second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.
But if there’s one quarterback who would make you change those plans, it’s Watson. If there’s even a chance of acquiring Watson, the Eagles have to explore that option. Watson is just 25, is a three-time Pro Bowler and was still able to thrive in Houston last year as the franchise crumbled around him.
We know how much the Eagles value the quarterback position and Watson is already elite and is still ascending. Do the Eagles actually land him? It doesn’t seem likely, but if they have strong interest, it’s definitely warranted. [nbcsports.com]
I tend to agree with Dave here. It would stink for Jalen Hurts — not to mention fly in the face of a previous report that the Eagles want to build around the second-year passer — but that's the business of football. If you can get a guy like Watson, despite the cost both in terms of trade compensation and future salary, you do it and make the rest work, which will suddenly become a lot easier with a player of Watson's caliber.
Over at PhillySportsNetwork.com, Liam Jenkins writes why he believes trading for Watson doesn't make a whole lot of sense for not just the Eagles, but for Watson himself. Why would he want to leave a rebuilding situation in Houston just to come to another one in Philly? Sure, his arrival would speed up that process — but it would also make it more difficult in some ways as the team tries to make his contract, which balloons to over $40 million next year, fit.
Deshaun Watson is easily among the league’s best quarterbacks. Despite a wreckage in front of him and a lack of support at just about every skill position, Watson managed to complete over 70% of his passes for 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns, and 7 picks. How? I don’t know. The 25-year-old clearly emerged as an elite talent on an absolute mess of a team and if he doesn’t get out quickly, his prime years will be wasted away. The question now is are the Eagles really the team to get the most out of him?
The short answer is no.
The Eagles have spent the last month or so battling incredibly hard to get under the cap. After just about managing to do it by the start of the new league year, something tells me that taking on a $15M cap hit isn’t the smartest move, especially when that number shoots to $40M next year. For context, the Eagles are projected to have the third [least] amount of cap space of any NFL team next season and still have to think about potential new deals for Dallas Goedert (entering his contract year) and Miles Sanders.
In terms of a rebuilding process, shipping Wentz away to take on a contract that’s just as damaging makes little sense. Watson may be the superior quarterback, but the Eagles selected Jalen Hurts just one year ago and as a result have three very cheap rookie years to utilize while they solidify the rest of the franchise. [phillysportsnetwork.com]
Jenkins also points out that bringing in Watson would basically just be the Eagles repeating the big mistake they made last season, when they brought in a quarterback instead of just rolling with the one they had. But there's a simple way to avoid that issue: include Jalen Hurts in the Watson trade...
Over at CBS Sports, Jeff Kerr took a look at what trade chips the Eagles have to include in a potential Watson deal. He seems to think it will take three first round picks (2021, 2022, 2023), plus the 37th overall pick this year, as well as two players, the first of which would be QB Jalen Hurts, who wouldn't really make much sense on the Eagles roster if they have Watson.
Here's what he had to say about Hurts:
If the Eagles seriously decide to consider Watson, there is absolutely no need to have Hurts on the roster. Hurts deserves an opportunity to be the starter in Philadelphia after the Eagles dealt away Carson Wentz, but this is Deshaun Watson we're talking about.
Hurts started four games for the Eagles after being used in a Taysom Hill-type role the first 12 games of the season, only throwing three passes before replacing Wentz for good in Week 13 against the Green Bay Packers. In his four starts, Hurts completed 51.9% of his passes (69 for 133) for 919 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions for a 77.2 passer rating. Hurts also had 46 carries for 272 yards and three touchdowns in those four starts. He's the first quarterback since 1950 to have 800 passing yards and 200 rushing yards in his first three starts -- so there's some potential here.
The Texans signed Tyrod Taylor to a one-year contract, but Hurts would provide immediate competition for the job and is a young quarterback Houston could give an excellent shot to start in the first year of a rebuild. Hurts' ability to extend the play wouldn't be bad to get the Houston offense to move the ball downfield.
Oh, Hurts is a Houston native too. [cbssports.com]
Of course, if the Eagles included that sixth pick in the draft (which is almost a lock), there's a good chance the Texans would use that on a quarterback, and after already signing Taylor, they might not want Hurts.
The other player Kerr suggests as an option is Miles Sanders. And while that would be a lot tougher for Eagles fans, it would also probably make the deal a lot more enticing to Houston. But the biggest part of the deal would be draft pick compensation, and that's also one of the biggest reasons, despite their recent struggles picking the right players, that the Eagles should be wary of attempting this deal.
In total, Kerr believes the Eagles' offer to the Texans would need to look something like this:
• 2021 first-round pick (#6)
• 2022 first-round pick
• 2023 first-round pick
• 2021 second-round pick (#37)
• QB Jalen Hurts
• RB Miles Sanders
Yeah, that's a lot to give up.
Over at Inquirer.com, Marcus Hayes makes a strong case for why this move not only makes little sense for the Eagles, but why it would be "catastrophic" for the franchise, as the headline suggests. According to Hayes, the cost outlined above by Kerr, specifically the draft picks, would only cause further harm to the team as it rebuilds, just like the team trading up to get Carson Wentz gutted them of picks and left their cupboards bare.
He would immediately make the Eagles relevant. He would be a solid value, having signed a four-year, $160 million extension in September. He turns 26 in September.
Watson is vastly superior to Jalen Hurts. But it’s a better idea to build a team around Hurts and hope he develops into some iteration of Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, or Russell Wilson than to sell off the future, again, for a quarterback who has shown himself to be both intractable and disloyal.
If he were somehow willing to come to Philly -- a dysfunctional organization with lots of problems -- he would bankrupt the assets a team that needs to rebuild. The Eagles need their draft picks. Every one of them.
One of the main, and ignored, reasons the Eagles haven’t won much since 2017 is that it cost so many draft assets to move up and draft Carson Wentz.
One of those assets: The No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 draft.
That pick: Deshaun Watson. [inquirer.com]
And finally, we swing around to our friends over at Bleeding Green Nation, where John Stolnis outlines the case against trading for Watson, which goes beyond the lost draft picks...
This year, Watson’s cap hit is a very reasonable $15.9 million, so it’s conceivable Roseman could move enough money around to squeeze him in this year but...
What do they do to fill holes at certain positions in which there is almost nothing on the shelves? The wide receiver and safety rooms are in serious need of reinforcements and the offensive line has fallen upon hard times, too. Watson’s cap number jumps to $40.4 million in 2022 and $42.4 million in ‘23, and while Wentz’ contract will be off the books, the shortage of quality players at other positions should persuade the Eagles to once again take advantage of a QB’s rookie contract.
The Eagles were able to add valuable pieces around Carson Wentz in 2017 because Wentz was still in the second year of his rookie deal. It’s a huge advantage that smart teams take advantage of and the Eagles, after this year, will have another opportunity to do just that. [bleedinggreennation.com]
His piece was pretty convincing, so much so that the majority of Eagles fans that voted in the poll below his story voted against trading for the Texans quarterback.
Will the Eagles ultimately make a move, or will this just be another rumor that burns bright and quickly fades out of our collective focus? We're betting on the latter, but you never know with this team...