The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes have officially opened. Now we’ll find out just how close these Jets want to fly near the sun.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported on Thursday that the Houston Texans’ 25-year-old superstar quarterback has officially requested a trade. In reality, this is a move he put in for weeks ago, but it has only been confirmed after the Texans hired David Culley as their new head coach.
Culley is a long-time NFL assistant coach most recently working as John Harbaugh’s No. 2 man along with being the Baltimore Ravens’ passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach. The 65-year-old spent 27 years working in the NFL and will become the Texans’ first Black head coach ever. He’ll also be the oldest head coach in NFL history by the time of his debut.
Watson’s steadfast desire to be traded obviously suggests that the hiring of Culley isn’t good enough to keep him in Houston. Culley also hasn’t met his standards for what he wants in a head coach.
“I mean, we just need a whole culture shift,” Watson said earlier in the month (h/t ESPN). “We just need new energy. We need discipline, we need structure, we need a leader so we can follow that leader as players. That’s what we need. We’ve got to have the love of not just the game of football because that’s what we do, but the love for people and the people in this organization.”
It also doesn’t fix what the Texans did over the last year, trading away top receiver DeAndre Hopkins before firing the man who made the deal, head coach and GM Bill O’Brien mid-season. Houston then did not consult with Watson after he made it known that he wanted to have some input in the hiring process of the general manager. Instead, the Texans brought on Nick Caserio, which only inflamed the relationship.
Watson’s official request to be traded is only good news for the New York Jets, who are reportedly Watson’s preferred destination if the Texans heed to his wish.
After two nightmare seasons under Adam Gase, the Jets have brought on the well-respected defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers, Robert Saleh, on as their new head coach — someone Watson admires and implored the Texans to interview for their head-coaching vacancy.
They are expected to be in the market for a quarterback and have almost every possible avenue open to them to find one. Saleh spoke highly of third-year passer Sam Darnold, who regressed mightily under Gase, during his introductory press conference, but they currently have the No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft where they’ll have a clear shot at both Ohio State’s Justin Fields and BYU’s Zach Wilson.
Of course, Darnold and the No. 2 pick are just two major assets that could be used in potential trade talks to pique the Texans’ interest. Watson is one of the premier young passers of the game and put together a monster season despite a poor supporting cast around him. On a 4-12 Texans side, Watson passed for a league-leading 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
The Jets won’t get that kind of production from Darnold or a draft pick any time soon. And with two first-round picks in each of the next two drafts — including that No. 2 pick — they can put the necessary war chest together to pick up their first true, proven franchise quarterback since Joe Namath.