As we sit and wait for George Paton to make a move as the new general manager of the Denver Broncos, it’s become clear to me how big a difference there is between a quality candidate and good hire. It isn’t cautious aggression, or reckless caution. It’s a process that leads to a desirable result.
Everything else is talk.
Which brings us to a brewing storm that could single handedly alternate Super Bowl matchups for the foreseeable future. Hours before Chad Henne dashed Cleveland’s hopes, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Deshaun Watson looks like he’s done with the Houston Texans.
There is a growing sense from people in and around the Texans’ organization that Deshaun Watson has played his last snap for the team. It’s early in the off-season, there’s a lot of time left, but Watson’s feelings cannot and should not be underestimated.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 17, 2021
The news has been a long time coming. Football Outsiders’ Rivers McCown has written at length about Jack Easterby and the dramatic impact he’s had on the Houston Texans. Cal McNair passing over Eric Bieniemy and Robert Salah on the Texans’ initial search for head coach looks like the straw to break the camel’s back, but it’s been a long time coming.
If Watson is available, George Paton and the Broncos have to try. It won’t be cheap and they would enter a crowded field with a disadvantage in any potential trade talks. Odds are the Texans will want a quarterback in return or the necessary capital to acquire one quickly. Losing Watson will be perhaps the worst day in franchise history, so replacing him with something resembling competence will surely be a priority to a recently hired front office. On top of that, Watson has a no-trade clause in his new extension and has already expressed an interest in playing for Brian Flores and the Miami Dolphins.
It doesn’t matter.
The NFL is defined by quarterback play. You either have one or you don’t. Passing is simply too important to offensive production to win consistently without one. It’s why there are currently 10 quarterbacks who make more than $30 million a year in a league when no other position has one. Even with a hard salary cap, a team’s fortunes depend on the arm of their passer.
Watson is the golden goose every team dreams of. He’s on the shortest of lists for the best quarterback in the league and won’t turn 26 until September. Odds are he solves the quarterback conundrum for a decade. Probably longer.
If Super Bowl titles are George Paton’s goal, the astronomical asking price shouldn’t deter him. The Denver Broncos have the kind of talented young corps and Pro Bowl pieces littered across their defense to potentially intrigue both the Texans front office and Watson. From there, it likely comes down to draft capital and quarterbacks. This is where teams like the Dolphins, 49ers, or even the Jets could sway the equation in their favor.
Unless of course Jack Easterby loves himself some Drew Lock. For weeks now we’ve heard about how the second year quarterback turned a corner in his game against Miami. Former NFL quarterback Tim Jenkins has argued that if Lock can make strides this off-season, he has a future as a top 10 quarterback. If this is true, perhaps the Texans can see through the 2020 stats. Maybe Lock’s arm talent could be enough to build a trade package.
I consider it a long shot. I just also hope the Broncos hired the kind of general manager who really does look at every single potential avenue in an effort to improve his team. There is not a single shred of doubt in my mind Deshaun Watson would do just that.
So the Broncos have to try.