And the more you think about it, the more sense it makes. The more you wonder why you hadn't explored the avenue sooner. The more you ponder why more isn't being reported on this front. Because crazier things have happened in the league, by a long shot.
The Texans signing of potential bridge starter Tyrod Taylor on Tuesday only furthered the sentiment among those execs in the NFL inclined to believe that Watson will be dealt … and that he will be dealt before the draft. Even some of the skeptics raised an eyebrow or two. It is indisputable that the Eagles are monitoring the Watson situation closely and evaluating it. No one in that organization would deny that.
The Eagles are always among the most aggressive exploring trades, and general manager Howie Roseman is as willing a dealmaker as there is in the NFL. Blockbuster trades are a particular specialty, including unconventional deals (i.e. the Carson Wentz trades they have pulled off). Some in the Eagles brass would try to poo-poo the idea of their interest by noting there must be about 30 teams paying close attention to this situation, but my sense is this is much more than an idea on the periphery; I get the sense this is something ownership and management would very much like to make happen.
"I hear that it is very much at the ownership level," as one league source put it.
"No action for the Eagles," one GM said. "It has to be killing them."
Another GM said: "Would Howie trading for Watson surprise me? No. Now that you mention it."
This has been the most docile start to the league year in recent Eagles history, devoid of action outside of the Wentz salary dump. Then again, this franchise also finds itself with the sixth overall pick -- they very rarely ever pick this high -- and with unproven Jalen Hurts atop the quarterback depth chart and likely very much on the outside of having one of the top two or three quarterbacks fall to them in the draft. Why move up for a far-less-than-sure thing, when you could package that draft capital for Watson, instead?
The Eagles have four of the first 85 picks in this draft, and perhaps a future first rounder heading their way depending on how the Colts fare with Wentz. They are not above trading multiple draft assets to land a quarterback they covet, and I'm old enough to remember 2016, when the Eagles moved from eighth overall to second to select Wentz -- giving up the eighth pick, the 77th pick and the 100th pick in 2016, plus their first pick in 2017 and second in 2018.
Landing Watson in his prime on a fair-market long-term deal is worth a similar package, with them holding 10 picks in all in this draft, including sixth, 37th, 70th and 85th. That could jumpstart the Texans' rebuild and it's not imperative they land their QB now, although if you love Trey Lance at eighth overall he's probably all yours. Throw in a future one and two, and maybe a player.
Remember, Jeffrey Lurie is always a willing spender, and the cap will jump leaps and bounds by 2023. They will be out of Wentz's dead-cap by then and the NFC East pretty much stinks so it doesn't take all that much to win it. That organization is recalibrating and a step back in 2021 may be in the cards with Watson or not -- but with him in his mid-20s that's not the end of the world, either. Time is on their side.
Bottom line, as much as we know the Panthers want in on this, and the Patriots likely will, too, and the 49ers are keeping a close eye and maybe it makes sense for Miami as well, it is something that makes as much -- if not more -- sense for Philly. And it is very fitting in the Eagles' organizational DNA. And at the very least they will be exploring this possibility in earnest.
Bears settle for Andy Dalton
I told you guys a week ago the Bears were hot and heavy for Russell Wilson. Frankly, they bailed from the chase a little early, but then again they have found ways to botch the QB position every way possible.
If Wilson is dealt, it will be close to the draft -- possibly even after June 1 -- and if the opportunity cost of losing out on Andy Dalton is the price you pay for hanging in the Wilson derby in the end, well, have you even really paid a price? Any who, as previously reported the Bears were serious about moving on Ben Roethlisberger if Pittsburgh released him and they also did a lot of work on Jamies Winston, I'm told, probing around officials with his former team, Tampa, about him and investing in the process. He chose to stay in New Orleans. Because of course he would choose that option over the Bears.
Which led them to eventually likely overpaying Dalton, when they were already overpaying Nick Foles, who they shockingly gave up value to acquire a year ago. Sad.
Conversations with multiple general managers and execs left me convinced that barring a dramatic shift in the process -- an injury or something unforeseen coming to light -- then the Jets' focus is on BYU quarterback Zach Wilson as of now. Several teams picking in the top 10 are operating as if that is what will happen next month.
And I continue to hear, the Dolphins have already let it be known that they are open for business with the third overall pick (which they stole from the Texans in the Laremy Tunsil trade). But there is a catch -- they don't want to move down too far because they are super high on both Alabama receivers and want to be in position to land one of them (which could also help explain the very slow moving receiver market in free agency, with the Dolphins believed by many to be a top destination for Kenny Golladay).
Both are expected to go top 10, perhaps closer to top five.
Could Carolina trade up to three to land a QB if the Panthers strike out on dealing for Watson? Sure. But GMs I am talking to believe it is far more likely a team trades up to third overall for a left tackle than a QB. Because the Falcons and Bengals, picking fourth and fifth, are expected to pounce on the top two tackles.
Patriots play catch-up
Expect to hear plenty of rumblings about the Patriots' free agent splurge being tied to former top executive Nick Caserio. Here's how the narrative making the rounds goes -- Caserio botched the last three drafts and so now Bill Belichick had to bail them out in free agency with Caserio gone to Houston as its GM. The thing is, nothing happens in that building that Belichick doesn't sign off on. Everything there has his fingerprints, and their draft failures he must wear -- just like all of those championship rings. The buck always stop with him, and their roster-construction, draft and contract issues are on him; the Patriots have blown it repeatedly at the skill positions and it caught up to them and led to this splurge.
Of course, if the Patriots find a way to consummate a Watson trade with the Texans, full marks to The Hoodie. It works both ways. Continue to hear that nothing is imminent regarding an Orlando Brown trade, but there is ample reason for optimism the Ravens will move him by the draft. Interested teams remain, and pending the final decision of free agent tackle Trent Williams -- who could land $23 million per year -- that trade market could come into further focus … If I am a Bengal fan I am having a drink or five tonight. Not feeling this early offseason for them … I really like the Jacoby Brissett signing for Miami on multiple levels.