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AFC East Roundup: Deshaun Watson Edition

Could the star QB play in the AFC East next season?

One of the NFL’s major stories over the past couple of weeks has been Deshaun Watson’s request to be traded out of the Houston Texans’ organization. After signing a $160 million extension in September, things went south quickly following the Texans’ trade that sent DeAndre Hopkins to the Arizona Cardinals. Despite a disappointing season for Houston, Watson still managed to put together an impressive 2020, posting career bests through the air and leading the league in passing yards (4823), while throwing 33 touchdowns to only seven interceptions. When you add in Watson’s rushing stats, his contribution to the offense nearly hit 5300 yards and accounted for 36 TDs. With Deshaun Watson so unhappy in his current situation and expressing as much on social media, many potential suitors have emerged including the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, and even the New England Patriots. If the Texans hope to make the best of a terrible situation, they should consider moving quickly with a trade. This week on the AFC East Roundup we take a look at what Buffalo’s division rivals have to offer toward a potential trade with Houston.

Obviously—and despite what some pundits have said to the contrary this past week—we’re going to ignore the Buffalo Bills in this sweepstakes because: Josh Allen. No matter what you think Watson—whether you see him as Allen’s equal or perhaps a clip above in talent and ability—getting rid of Allen would throw out the culture built by general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott. Saying Watson would be an improvement over Allen also ignore the genuine relationship he and Diggs have built. There’s a human element to what the Bills have built that can’t necessarily be improved on by any player—even someone as talented as Watson. Remember, while Watson had an incredible season, Josh Allen also passed for over 4500 yards and he had nine more total touchdowns than Watson. Quite simply: Buffalo is very happy with their quarterback.

Back to the topic of where Watson could land within the AFC East, we start with the Miami Dolphins who some say have the most intriguing package for the Texans. Miami currently holds the third overall pick in the draft—the pick that actually came from Houston last season in the Laremy Tunsil trade. The Dolphins also hold the 18th overall pick along with the 36th overall pick that also came from the Texans. Miami could also sweeten the deal with Tua Tagovailoa—providing Houston with a potential new franchise quarterback, and one just entering the second year of a rookie deal. The issue the Dolphins could face are the reports that the Texans are not high on Tua as a quarterback.

Moving on to the New York Jets, who just hired their new head coach in Robert Saleh, we find a different type of intrigue. There have been reports that Watson loves Saleh and respects him as a coach in the league. As for assets, the Jets hold the second overall pick, which would likely guarantee Houston its pick of any quarterback not named Trevor Lawrence. The Jets could also enrich a potential trade by including Sam Darnold who is also still on his rookie deal. The team also holds the 23rd overall pick in the upcoming draft and have an extra first-round pick in the 20222 draft that stemmed from the Jamal Adams trade earlier this season.

Finally we have the New England Patriots, a team looking for someone to fill the big shoes Tom Brady left behind—you know the guy...he’s currently getting ready to play in another Super Bowl next weekend. The Patriots hold the 15th overall pick this year. A potential asset New England could throw into the discussion would be 2019 defensive player of the year Stephen Gilmore who was rumored in trade talks earlier during the 2020 season. The asking price at the time was a first rounder and a player in return for Gilmore, which shows just how much the team values him. However, even if this trade happened the Patriots would still lack receiving weapons for Watson.

A wild card in any of these scenarios is that Watson has a no-trade clause written in his contract. If he doesn’t want to go to the AFC East then that’s his choice. There’s still also the factor that, currently, the Texans are adamant they won’t trade their franchise quarterback.