The Deshaun Watson era in Houston appears to be over.
The star quarterback has formally asked the Texans for a trade, league sources told ESPN's Adam Schefter. The request reportedly was made weeks ago.
The Texans hired Baltimore Ravens passing game coordinator David Culley to be their new head coach, but that will not change Watson's mind, per ESPN.
Watson's trade request comes after the quarterback reportedly was unhappy with the process that led to the hiring of new general manager Nick Caserio.
There will be no shortage of suitors for the Texans to choose from should they opt to honor Watson's request. The New York Jets and Miami Dolphins reportedly are at the top of Watson's list, but the 49ers, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers also could be involved.
It will cost a hefty sum to pry the 25-year-old star from the Texans. Both the Jets and Dolphins have two-first round picks in the 2021 draft and a young quarterback to build their package around. Conventional wisdom suggests the price will start at three first-round picks and only go up from there.
While the 49ers are expected to run it back with Jimmy Garoppolo as their starting quarterback in 2021, Watson's trade request could alter their calculus. Due to the structure of Watson's contract, he will only have a $10.5 million cap hit next season for the team he is traded to. That could give the 49ers, who are facing a cap crunch, some breathing room as they look to rebuild their secondary, bolster their offensive line and find another edge rusher to pair with Nick Bosa.
The 49ers might be wary of parting with a significant portion of their future draft capital, but Watson is worth it. Star quarterbacks just entering their prime are almost never traded in the NFL, and Watson is coming off a season in which he led the NFL in passing yards while throwing to Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb.
Watson is one of the NFL's transcendent stars and he would make the 49ers the prohibitive NFC favorites for the next five to 10 years. Will the 49ers be willing to do what is necessary to acquire him?