“Make concessions. Do whatever it takes. Do not lose that player. Keep that quarterback.”
— Jimmy Johnson on Deshaun Watson
There haven’t been many, but the true geniuses of football are quarterbacks. Not coaches, who’d like us to think they are.
So, if I owned the Texans — which would be bad for my mental health, because I’d be a bigger jackass than I am now — I wouldn’t trade Deshaun Watson for all the “t” in intermittent.
Watson wants out of Houston. And there certainly are no other current or potential geniuses in that organization.
You know the Heisman pose? I’m giving it to him.
But the NFL quarterback tree, always sacred, the Burning Bush of sports — as audacious AFL commissioner, Al Davis forced the 1966 merger when he went after the NFL’s quarterbacks — is about to drop most of its fruit.
With so many QBs sure to leave their respective teams, we are about to go through the most tumultuous — and entertaining — offseason in league history.
And Watson, the prized plum among potential produce, wants on the market.
Deshaun played on a bad, 4-12 team, one that traded All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins for basically nothing prior to the season. Without a run game and little outside skill, he put up heavy stats, completing 72% of his passes for 4,823 yards, 33 TDs vs. seven picks, 112 passer rating, 444 rushing yards, 3 TDs.
Taking everything into account, he had the best season of any NFL quarterback.
But given Houston’s battered luggage — among his things, packed is an anger over not being in (as apparently promised) on the GM hiring — he’s requested a trade. And if Houston, now quite possibly the worst franchise in American sports, trades him, it will create an organizational crater that will take the Texans years to dig out of.
Teams froth to get Deshaun Watsons. Six months ago, he happily signed a four-year, $127 million deal, with a $27 million signing bonus. He’s 25 years old. You don’t trade Deshaun Watsons.
Nor do you sign contracts and jump ship just because swells are coming over the bow.
Sorry, but if he doesn’t want to play for me, I’d make him sit. Because I’d be without a franchise quarterback, searching for another, with no guarantees I’m gonna find one. No QB, no chance.
Then there’s the Aaron Rodgers situation in Green Bay. He will be MVP. He may want out. He says nothing is absolute. One thing seems absolute. He’s under contract and Packers brass say they “aren’t idiots” and aren’t letting him go.
Do smart people draft Jordan Love?
This doesn’t apply to any other position. You don’t trade or release a supreme QB — unless you’re certain you have another in waiting (Joe Montana/Steve Young).
ESPN’s Adam Schefter believes there roughly are 10 quarterbacks locked into starting jobs for 2021’s opening day, that at least 18 teams will change QBs this offseason.
It’s not impossible, and, regardless, many will be on the move by trade, release or retirement. Unprecedented.
Among them: Matt Ryan, Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Lock, Mitchell Trubisky, Cam Newton, Jared Goff, Drew Brees, Philip Rivers, Alex Smith, Gardner Minshew, Tua Tagovailoa, and of course Watson, Rodgers, and who knows about Dak Prescott in Dallas?
Al Davis backed the NFL into a corner, but that corner usually is curved. It’s not the NBA, an asylum that freely allows the inmates to run it.
Owner Cal McNair, who captains the Texans (badly), remains a billionaire, so he can call Watson’s bluff, real or not. He’s not keen on a trade, but he could fold like origami.
Does Watson have the figs to sit and pass on millions? Maybe. In my experience, not many athletes are willing.
You’re supposed to try to get better, not worse. And when it comes to walking into friendly fire, the Texans should wise up and stop volunteering.