It’s clear Deshaun Watson is unhappy with the Texans, and NFL.com’s David Carr thinks the SF 49ers would be a top trade partner this offseason.
While the 2021 NFL playoffs have been hot, a good bulk of chatter is surrounding disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and his immediate future.
Watson has made it known he’s more than frustrated with the Texans as they go about rebuilding their front office in the wake of former head coach Bill O’Brien’s firing. Watson was supposed to be involved with the search for a new general manager, which turned into Nick Caserio, and head coach. Per multiple reports, Watson hasn’t been consulted.
If Watson’s employment with the Texans is truly untenable, it’s inevitable talks of a blockbuster offseason trade would be a high-point discussion.
And the Niners have been no strangers to such chatter.
NFL.com’s David Carr was among the latest to weigh in. To no one’s surprise, he listed San Francisco as the No. 1 suggested trade partner for Watson’s services:
"Watson in the Bay Area would be a home run. Kyle Shanahan has developed his scheme since going to San Francisco with more bootlegs, zone runs, QB-designed runs and RPOs, and knowing this, I can’t think of a better fit. A dual-threat signal-caller with Watson’s ability is what this improved offense has been missing. They have a group of good, young receivers (Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Kendrick Bourne), a premier tight end (George Kittle) and an unbelievable run game that would be that much better with Watson. What makes this pairing feasible is the fact that Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract is easy to move on from, as the 49ers would only take a $2.8 million dead-money hit if they released him, saving $24 million against the cap. I would pencil Watson’s 49ers into the NFC Championship Game every year."
In addition to the SF 49ers, Carr suggested the New England Patriots, Chicago Bears and NY Jets be in line to ask Houston about a trade for the 25-year-old three-time Pro Bowl quarterback.
It would take a blockbuster effort from the SF 49ers
The simplest of solutions would be for the Niners to trade their current starter, Garoppolo, as part of a package for Watson. It would take some significant compensation in terms of NFL Draft picks to pair with Jimmy G. But San Francisco would unload Garoppolo’s contract and lessen the hit of picks Houston would be asking in return.
Perhaps Garoppolo would welcome a reunification with Caserio, given their prior relationship in New England. But another caveat is Garoppolo’s no-trade clause worked into his contract. He’d have to sign off on the trade, and Watson’s recent feelings towards the Texans organization isn’t exactly an open endorsement.
Plus, Houston probably wouldn’t want to take on that $24.1 million potential cap hit from Garoppolo when Watson is scheduled to account for just $15.94 million against the cap in 2021.
If that’s not a route to take, the SF 49ers would surely have to offer up perhaps as many as three first-round picks along with multiple day-one and day-two options to get the conversations starting.
Unless Watson essentially forces Houston’s hand, which is hard and nothing like how NBA players have done the same in recent years, the Texans aren’t simply going to let the quarterback go for a relatively low asking price.
Still, if the Niners have a shot to land a franchise-changing quarterback, they should absolutely jump at the opportunity.