The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes have begun in the wake of a Houston grand jury declining Friday to indict the embattled Texans quarterback on criminal charges related to allegations of sexual misconduct. Already, a pair of NFL teams have reportedly extended trade offers for the former Pro Bowler, with plans to meet with Watson regarding a potential deal.
With that in mind, what could an actual Deshaun Watson trade look like? A week after the Seahawks landed a monster package in exchange for franchise QB Russell Wilson (two first-round picks, two second-rounders, a fifth-rounder, and three players), here's one stab at forecasting potential offers from seven different teams that have at some point been connected to the QB:
Unlike the Seahawks with Drew Lock, the Texans would at least be getting a proven serviceable starter at QB in Mayfield, who may or may not warrant a long-term deal but is still just 26 himself. Hunt plays a replaceable role but is also 26 with Pro Bowl flashes at a position of need, while Njoku, 25, is a prime candidate to be moved under the franchise tag.
Projected offer: 2022 first-round pick (No. 27), 2023 first-round pick, 2024 first-round pick, 2023 conditional fifth-round pick, LB Devin White
They're trying to win now, so they don't really have a plethora of logical trade chips on the roster, hence the inclusion of three firsts. White, meanwhile, is just 24 with an All-Pro nod on his resume, but he'll soon be due for a big-money extension. He'd at least give new Texans coach Lovie Smith one building block for a porous defense.
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In this scenario, Howie Roseman keeps the last of his three first-rounders in 2022, while giving the Texans a pair of top-20 picks to go along with a solid, if unspectacular, young QB in Hurts, 23, who's from Houston. Cox is no longer the force he once was, but the big salaries remaining on his deal help even out the money moving in this potential trade.
Darnold, 24, is young, but essentially a salary dump, whereas the 25-year-old McCaffrey, though injury-prone, would theoretically give Houston one of the game's top multipurpose weapons. The package itself is very similar to that of the Eagles, except with a more appealing 2022 first-rounder in place of a more promising QB.
Roby, who earned big money with the Texans from 2019-2020, is purely a throwaway inclusion to save the Saints much-needed cap space, but Davenport, 25, would give Houston an ascending edge rusher fresh off a career-high nine sacks. In this scenario, the Saints force Dennis Allen to do more with less on defense in exchange for a massive upgrade at QB. The thinking here is also that Watson wouldn't necessarily sign off the Saints unless play-makers like Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas stayed put.
Projected offer: 2022 first-round pick (No. 9), 2023 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, 2022 fourth-round pick
This would roughly equate to Seattle taking its haul from the Russell Wilson trade and flipping it right to Houston, albeit with only picks, and recent veteran acquisitions (Drew Lock, Noah Fant, Shelby Harris) staying put. It'd be a potential steal long-term, if Watson pans out, but would also keep the Seahawks focused on winning now rather than -- perhaps smartly -- rebuilding.
Projected offer: 2022 first-round pick (No. 12), 2023 first-round pick, 2022 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick, DE Danielle Hunter
Hunter has injury concerns but is still relatively young at 27, with Defensive Player of the Year-level talent when suited up. In this scenario, Minnesota simultaneously deals QB Kirk Cousins elsewhere (the Colts? the Buccaneers?). Cousins could easily be included in a potential Watson deal, but you could imagine him looking to orchestrate a follow-up trade out of Houston -- or simply play out 2022 before cashing in as a free agent in 2023.