In 2010, the Philadelphia Eagles made a deal to trade away star quarterback Donovan McNabb. The destination? The Washington Football Team, a rival within the division. It was an unprecedented trade at the time — the Eagles were giving a cornerstone of their franchise to a division team, all for a second and third round pick.
We fast forward to 2021, where Adam Schefter reports that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has requested a trade. Watson is unquestionably one of the top quarterbacks in the league and is coming off of a career year, leading the NFL in passing yards.
However, the Texans went 4-12, and are in the midst of turmoil within the front office. As Jenny Vrentas and Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated reported, the Texans front office is in “a state of constant chaos,” and Watson wants out. Multiple suitors have been linked to trading for the star quarterback, and photoshopped Watson photos have littered the internet.
But what would it take for the Jacksonville Jaguars to get in on the Deshaun Watson Sweepstakes?
The answer: I highly doubt it. BUT...
I would think that IF the Jaguars were to make a play for Deshaun Watson, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network said it would take multiple first round picks to even be in play for Watson . I think if the trade proposal were to happen, here’s what it would look like:
Jaguars would trade
2021 1st Round Pick (No. 1 overall)
2021 1st Round Pick (via Rams)
2021 2nd Round Pick (via Vikings)
2022 1st Round Pick
Texans would trade
QB Deshaun Watson
2021 6th Round Pick (via Saints)
Now that we got the logistical stuff out of the way, let’s dip into the philosophy behind this trade, and the pros and cons of trading for Watson if you’re the Jaguars.
Why the Jaguars should do it — you get a known commodity
Believe me, I completely understand the hype behind Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence. Hailed as the best quarterback prospect since Andrew Luck, Lawrence tantalizes fans and NFL brass alike with elite pocket presence, arm strength and touch. However, the Jaguars are still hoping the Lawrence will pan out in the NFL.
The NFL has seen many highly touted quarterbacks falter in the NFL, such as Jamarcus Russell. Even the more recent top-drafted quarterbacks have struggled, with 2016’s Jared Goff possibly not having a future in LA.
You know what you get in Deshaun Watson — an elite quarterback entering his prime years. According to RBSDM, Watson had the fifth-highest EPA+Completion Percentage over Expectation (CPOE) last season, and was missing a true No. 1 receiver for the whole year (credit to Bill O’Brien). If the Jaguars were to make a play for Watson, it would be because they know that Watson is elite, and they believe that he could put them over the hump.
Which brings me to my counterpoint, and the crux of this story...
Why the Jaguars shouldn’t do it — they are nowhere near ready to compete
The only way I see the Jaguars offering a trade would be if they moved back to the AFC Central again.
The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft is a prized possession, and the Jaguars handing that and multiple other draft picks in this year and next year’s draft to a division is too risky--and kinda stupid. The Jaguars have way too many holes on both offense and defense, and keeping all of those draft picks and cap space (Watson recently signed a four-year, $156 million dollar contract extension) will allow for the Jaguars to rebuild that way.
Keeping both first round draft picks this year would be the first steps in rebuilding the franchise, and losing those to get a quarterback who is no doubt elite would hinder the Jaguars ability to fill holes at other positions. The Jaguars are going to draft Trevor Lawrence and the only thing more valuable than an elite quarterback is an elite quarterback still on his rookie contract. I’d much rather bank on Lawrence being elite and cheap and fill other positions to help him out.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither were the Jaguars.