Speaking of markets, the NFL trade market just punched the New York Jets straight in the mouth this weekend.
We didn’t even have to wait until after the Super Bowl for our first blockbuster deal of the winter as the Los Angeles Rams sent quarterback Jared Goff, a third-round pick in 2021, a first-round pick in 2022, and a first-round pick in 2023 to the Detroit Lions for veteran quarterback Matthew Stafford.
It’s the first time since 1967 that two former No. 1 draft picks were traded for each other.
It’s a win-now move for the Rams, who came to the realization over the last three years that consistent quarterback play was the missing piece to a potential championship puzzle — beginning with a poor showing in Super Bowl LIII against the New England Patriots.
Stafford has long put up top-tier passing numbers but the supporting cast around him in Detroit has lagged well behind. He ranks 16th all-time with 45,109 passing yards and 282 touchdowns, but he’s 33 years old; hence the win-now mentality.
On the wrong side of 30, Stafford called for a king’s ransom of picks and a former No. 1 quarterback, which doesn’t bode well for the Jets, who are in the hunt for Houston Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson.
The 25-year-old All-Pro officially submitted a trade request, which was made public last week before the Stafford deal came down.
For a rebuilding Texans side that flirted with dysfunction and ultimately fractured the relationship between team and star quarterback, it will take an even steeper price for an interested team to get Watson.
The Jets have the assets to beat almost any other team that wants to get in on the Watson sweepstakes, featuring two first-round draft picks in each of the next two years — including the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s selection process — along with the 23-year-old Sam Darnold, who received the praises of new Jets head coach, Robert Saleh.
“He is an unbelievable talent,” Saleh told the Huddle and Flow Podcast. “There’s a reason why he was the third overall pick. Just watch the tape. Production aside, just watch the player. He’s got tremendous mobility. He’s got arm talent, fearless, smart, and he’s a quick, precise decision-maker. He’s loved in the locker room, and people adore him around this building.”
Of course, that could be a head coach trying to build up the potential trade stock of a young passer who regressed mightily in his third NFL season. Watson is head and shoulders above Darnold in terms of talent right now and in his career trajectory despite being just two years older.
On a 4-12 Texans team in 2020, Watson passed for a league-leading 4,823 yards along with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. That’s the kind of talent that would provide the Jets with their first legitimate franchise quarterback in decades. Now it looks like it will come down to their willingness to pay for an expected steep price that was only made larger by the Stafford deal.