They always were seeking more than the market – and a very limited market at that – would bear, and it remains to be seen whether that position was to their benefit or detriment. With a player facing widespread allegations of sexual assault or sexual misconduct, with no resolution in sight, the potential outcomes are quite varied. If Watson ends up facing no criminal charges and is absolved, then the Texans just might get their wishes and end up with three first-round picks and two more cheap assets for him. Maybe even more.
And if Watson is in jail, or suspended for a substantial period of time, or both, then the Texans have a massive mess on their hands, and you can expect lawsuits and grievances between them and a former face-of-the-franchise player who at the very least is guilty of some severe misjudgments … only that hasn't happened to this point, and the reality is there were some franchises that were willing to go quite far down a road to possibly acquiring Watson despite all that is swirling around him.
Lest we forget, numerous organizations were willing to part with a multitude of key pieces to attempt to land a player facing this significant of a legal situation. They just weren't willing to part with enough to get a deal done to the Texans' liking. And that is the bottom line. Owners can try to act as if the reason it didn't happen is that they didn't get enough time with Watson, or they didn't get enough assurances from the NFL offices about what the future might hold, but the league office doesn't know the magnitude of what Watson will end up facing any more than anyone else does, and anyone pretending that the NFL office could have a handle on sexual abuse charges of this extent is fooling themselves, as the league's own ability to address these issues in other instances is and has been under intense scrutiny.
But make no mistake – this has been about ongoing negotiations and value and give-and-take, and not any moral stand or high ground. That was surrendered the moment any team entered into negotiations about a player facing these legal issues.
Making sense of all the backup QB success
What a time to be a backup quarterback? Unreal.
We have all been trained to believe that QBs matter above all. But last week was certainly a different turn of events. Maybe it was a blip. Maybe it says something more than we can imagine right now. But Week 8 was all over the place and bizarre on many levels. When you compare the winning quarterbacks and losing quarterbacks, it is something else.
Consider the following:
Cowboys backup Cooper Rush took down the Vikings, who have Kirk Cousins, not far removed from being the highest-paid player in the history of the game and someone who makes about 35 times what Rush makes.
Yeah, this is not QB vs. QB. That's not how football works. But this was one weird week and I can't help but wonder if more weird weeks are to follow.
Judon looking like best offseason signing
The Patriots are back in the mix in a wide open AFC, and Matt Judon has everything to do with that. The linebacker has been their best player just about every week this season, his impact cannot be discounted, he looks like perhaps the best free-agent signing of the offseason and I would cast a vote for him as the first-half defensive MVP.
Yeah, he has been that good. Week after week. Without fail. And without a helluva lot of help, either (although the Patriots secondary has been much better lately). But the overarching reality is, Judon has been a singularly disruptive presence in a way that very few men in this league have been. He's been nothing short of special. And when you consider that the Ravens had him for $16.8M last year on the franchise tag – with with him counting $16.8M against the cap, too – and New England managed to ink him to what amounts to a two-year, $31.8M deal (at less than the APY on the 2020 franchise tag), well, that's not a good look for Baltimore.
Judon was the Ravens' best player on defense the last two years – hence the tag he got – and he would still be, by far, if he was on their roster. Their front seven has suffered massively without him, and their pass rush looks more suspect than ever. Meanwhile, Judon is a dominant force week after week, freed up by Bill Belichick.
Judon is fourth in the NFL with eight sacks; the Ravens have 15 as a team. Judon is fifth in the NFL with 36 pressures; no Raven has more than 23. Judon is tied for fifth in the NFL with 28 hurries; no Raven has more than 16. He was a major difference-maker and one they, seemingly, thought they could live without.
They thought wrong. He was the heartbeat of their defense. Their fuzzy math makes no sense and their defense lacks bite, showing few signs of life, and it's very hard to buy that changing anytime soon while they continue to let impact players walk away.