Houston, we have a problem. It appears that quarterback Deshaun Watson and the Houston Texans have come to a crossroads in their relationship just one season after extending the former Clemson play-caller to a four-year, $140 million extension. After a dismal four-win season and the hiring of Nick Caserio as the new general manager, it seems like Watson wants out of the Lone Star State. Watson appeared to express frustration at the hiring of Caserio with a now-deleted tweet where he cryptically stated, “some things never change…”
Watson has reportedly asked for a trade, which puts the Vikings in a perfect position to pounce.
You might be wondering, how could the Vikings make a move for Watson? They just signed Kirk Cousins to two-year, $66 million extension last offseason. Well, it would be hard to pull off, but it can happen. We have seen with the Sam Bradford trade that general manager Rick Spielman isn’t afraid to spend draft picks if he thinks the team is contending. Despite a 7-9 season, with a high-powered offense headlined by Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson and a defense that is due for improvement with the return of Danielle Hunter, Michael Pierce and Anthony Barr, this team is still firmly in its window to contend.
The first logical step for the Vikings to make, if they want to deal for Watson, would be to ship off Cousins. The San Francisco 49ers may be looking for an upgrade on Jimmy Garoppolo, and Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan was Cousins’ former offensive coordinator in Washington, so this seems like a realistic landing spot. Despite his awful start to the season, Cousins’ impressive second half would help his value, and he could go for a second-round pick in this draft. With the pick acquired from the 49ers, Minnesota could help restock Houston’s draft capital by trading them first-round picks from 2021, 2022 and 2023 along with the second-rounder they acquired for Watson.
I know, most of you reading this are probably saying that this is a massive cost that would deplete significant draft capital. But Minnesota still has two third-round picks in this draft and four fourth-round selections before the allotment of compensatory picks. They can always use the draft picks that they have compiled from years of trading back to maneuver in the future.
Would three first-round picks really be that much for landing a perennial All-Pro quarterback like Watson? Consistent high-level quarterback play has been something that the Vikings have lacked since the Fran Tarkenton days, and with Cousins, you get a middle of the road quarterback who is paid like a franchise player.
Watson’s ability to extend plays is something Cousins sorely lacks and is highly valued in the modern NFL. We have seen Cousins fall or hold onto the ball as soon as he faces any pressure, unable to extend plays and make off-schedule throws.
Watson isn’t just a threat on his legs — he’s a capable passer. Despite losing perhaps the best wideout in the NFL in DeAndre Hopkins, he was able to put up more impressive statistics. Three first-rounders would be a small price to pay for getting a young superstar quarterback of the future.
Watson might also help update the Vikings’ offensive play-calling to be more pass-focused. Just imagine Watson lining up in shotgun with Cook beside him and Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson split out wide. Within the formation, there would be so many capable playmakers to account for as a defense. If the Vikings get Watson, 25, to compete with an aging Aaron Rodgers in the NFC North, Minnesota could stake their claim as division champions for years to come.
A trade like this is unlikely, but this offseason could warrant some major moves that could have an impact on the NFL for years to come. Quarterbacks like Carson Wentz, Watson, Garoppolo and others could all be on the move. If the Vikings want to get rid of the Cousins’ contract, now would be a perfect time.