No position on the New England Patriots’ roster will be watched more closely the course of the 2021 offseason than quarterback. Not only does the team only have two unproven options currently under contract for 2021 — Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala — veteran free agents Cam Newton and Brian Hoyer are also no long-term solutions and at best bridge options until another passer is ready to take the reigns.
Who that passer will be remains to be seen. The Patriots are drafting 15th overall this year, which puts them in a position to go after one of the top prospects available (although they will likely have to trade up to get one of the top four). They also could bring back Newton and hope that an upgraded supporting cast and more time in the system will lead to better results after what had been an up-and-down 2020 campaign for the veteran.
There are also the free agency and trade markets, and one name in particular caught the eye: Deshaun Watson, starting quarterback of the Houston Texans.
Watson and the organization are reportedly not on best terms at the moment, after the team hired general manager Nick Caserio without involving its franchise quarterback in the process. All that came just a few months following a controversial trade that sent his number one pass catcher, wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, to the Arizona Cardinals.
Even though Watson does have a no-trade clause in his contract, there have been rumblings that he might be on his way out of Houston. And what better landing spot than New England, Nick Caserio’s previous team?
While the Patriots do seem like they could be in the running for the Pro Bowl quarterback — they have the draft capital to pull off a trade and the financial flexibility to fit Watson’s contract under the salary cap — it seems highly unlikely that such a move will eventually happen. Those are the words of Texans beat writer Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, who took a deep dive into the Watson situation on Thursday.
Wilson wrote the following about a Watson-to-New England trade in his passage about the Patriots:
It’s hard to envision Bill Belichick entertaining a huge trade for Watson despite the struggles of Cam Newton as Tom Brady’s replacement last season. ... [T]here are a lot of connections between New England and the Texans, given the presence of former Patriots staffers Caserio and executive vice president of football operations Jack Easterby in Houston. A Watson trade is still considered a highly unlikely scenario.
The breakdown also included statements from one NFL general manager, who apparently does not see Houston moving on from its 25-year-old star quarterback at all. Despite teams such as the Miami Dolphins, New York Jets or San Francisco 49ers as potential landing spots possibly willing to part with a considerable number of draft picks, that GM noted that he “really doubt[s]” Watson will be moved this offseason.
“It’s crazy to think the Texans would be dumb enough to trade Deshaun,” he told Wilson. “Nick Caserio is a very smart guy. I would bet he figures out a way to make Deshaun happy and fix this thing before it gets further out of hand. They don’t play a game until September, so there’s a lot of time to smooth things over.”
It remains to be seen how Caserio and Texans owner Cal McNair resolve the situation surrounding their quarterback — McNair has apologized privately to Watson — but at this point in time, Patriots fans should therefore not get their hopes up.
New England’s next starting quarterback will come not from Houston, but somewhere else.