Deshaun Watson wants out of Houston. If the Texans do ultimately make him available, there will be several suitors for the Pro Bowl quarterback.
Could the Washington Football Team be one of them? Well, according to a new report from ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, Washington is one of the "sleeper" teams that could be in the mix to trade for the Texans star.
Fowler suggested that the floor for a Watson trade would require three first-round picks. Washington selects 19th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning they'd likely need to offer a little more to beat out other suitors such as the New York Jets (who pick No. 2 overall) or the Miami Dolphins (No. 3 overall).
However, Watson does have a no-trade clause in the four-year extension he signed with Houston last August, which gives the passer a lot more leverage as to where his next destination could be.
With this Watson sweepstake just beginning, it prompts the question: Should Washington trade three first-round picks for him?
The case for trading for Deshaun Watson
Talents like Watson almost never become available, no matter how bad situations get between quarterback and team. Excluding 43-year-old Tom Brady, it's impossible to think of the last franchise QB that has either hit the open market or been on the trade block.
The former Clemson star has been one of the best quarterbacks in the league over the past two seasons. This past year, despite losing All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, Watson turned in the best season of his career. Watson's 4,823 passing yards and 8.9 yards-per-attempt were the NFL's best. His 33 passing touchdowns were a career-high, while his seven interceptions were the lowest of his four NFL seasons.
In 2020, Washington made the playoffs for the first time in five seasons, despite playing four different quarterbacks along the way. If the Burgundy and Gold hope to make the postseason for a second consecutive year in 2021, stability at the sport's most important position is a must.
During his end-of-season press conference, head coach Ron Rivera admitted figuring out the quarterback position is one of the highest priorities this offseason. By acquiring Watson, Rivera would not only have his signal-caller of the present but the future as well.
As it stands now, Washington only has Alex Smith under contract at quarterback next season. The 36-year-old's comeback story is remarkable, but Washington can't expect to compete in 2021 with Smith as their QB1. Heck, Smith hasn't even decided if he wants to play next season altogether.
Outside of quarterback, Washington has a pair of rising stars in wideout Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson. Washington figures to be in the wide receiver market this offseason, too, whether that be in free agency or by taking advantage of a loaded draft class. Tight end Logan Thomas has also turned into a reliable option as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jack Del Rio's unit finished in the top five for every major category. A group that's full of young talent, Washington's defense is in win-now mode.
By trading for Watson, Washington would add a star quarterback to an offense with pieces and a stout defense. The team would immediately vault to one of the NFC's top teams.
Sure, mortgaging a handful of future draft picks is a risk. But there's no guarantee any of those picks will pan out, let alone be as impactful as Watson. You need to take risks in the NFL to compete, and this one seems like a well-calculated one.
The case against trading for Deshaun Watson
Mortgaging the future of any franchise for one player is risky, even if it is Deshaun Watson.
Washington has a roster full of young talent on both sides of the ball. They also have eight picks in the 2021 draft, including four in the first three rounds. Washington has the sixth-most cap space in the NFL, per Spotrac, meaning the club can spend in free agency if they choose to.
Considering all of those factors above, the club has ample other avenues to pursue finding their franchise quarterback of the future without giving up their first-round picks until 2024. And, by not trading for Watson, Washington wouldn't inherit the four-year, $156 million contract he signed last August.
There's one other factor that will make Washington fans hesitant about trading for Watson, too.
And although it was nine years ago, the ghosts of Robert Griffin III are still around. Washington traded three first-round picks to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 in the 2012 NFL Draft, and the move originally looked like a good one.
But, following Griffin's epic rookie season, a knee injury prevented him from returning to the player he was before. As a result of the trade, Washington didn't have a first-round pick in either the 2013 or 2014 drafts. Over those two years, Washington won a combined seven games.
So, it's totally understandable for Washington to be hesitant about giving up three first-rounders, if not more.
Trading for Watson wouldn't necessarily guarantee Washington success, either. As good as the quarterback was in 2020, his team went 4-12. Sure, that's not mainly Watson's fault by any means -- and Houston's defense doesn't compare to Washington's -- but even his MVP-esque season didn't translate to victories.
Washington has a young roster, a motivated coach and a bright future. All of that could quickly turn south if Watson doesn't work out in Washington.
Trading for Deshaun Watson is a franchise-altering move. Trade for him and expectations change. Washington no longer focuses on building for the future; the time to win is now.
Ultimately, the decision comes down to Rivera and his revamped front office and their talent evaluation of the team. Washington has holes at other positions -- tackle, linebacker, and wide receiver, to name a few -- that also need to be addressed this offseason, not just quarterback.
If Washington feels they can contend for a championship with Watson, then they should do it. Point blank. And they should have no regrets about doing it, either.