Some sports radio topics are off-the-wall ideas meant to draw listeners and callers, even if the host doesn’t necessarily believe what’s being said. Others, while perhaps not realistic, are legitimately interesting debates, ones that happen to draw in listeners and callers while also coming from a genuine place.
Take, for example, the discussion between Colin Cowherd and Jay Glazer on FS1 Tuesday. Cowherd initially framed the discussion by saying that the New York Jets – who own a bounty of future picks, including the No. 2 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft – could be a landing spot if the Houston Texans ultimately do decide to trade a disgruntled Deshaun Watson. Glazer took exception to the idea that the debate on acquiring Watson should begin with the Jets:
“Why are you only bringing up the Jets? Listen, if I’m [Jacksonville Jaguars head coach] Urban [Meyer], I do it,” Glazer said emphatically. “He’s a known commodity. You’re not sure, as much as we think Trevor Lawrence probably will be a stud and [the same for Justin] Fields…you don’t know. There have been so many other busts that we’ve seen at the No. 1 and No. 2 pick. You know what Deshaun is – you know what he is on the field, and off the field. If I’m the first pick, the second pick, the third pick, whatever it is, if I have a chance to get Deshaun Watson, I’m sending whatever I have to to get Deshaun Watson.”
Let the record show, the de-evolution of the perception of the Texans organization over the last year – driven by the decisions of Bill O’Brien, Jack Easterby and Cal McNair – have left the team with enough egg on their face. Having to trade Watson – unthinkable just a few months ago – would take years to recover from, if ever. The idea that the Texans would trade Watson to a division rival that they see two times a year, it’s just not going to happen, even if the Jaguars had interest.
If you set that dynamic aside for a moment, it is a very compelling discussion.
Watson, still just 25, led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards this past season. He’s pretty universally seen as one of the top five quarterbacks in the sport currently. In most years, you’d be hard-pressed to convince yourself, even if you were ecstatic about the top quarterback prospect, that you’d be able to draft a quarterback that you are sure would be better than Watson.
However, 2021 may be the rare exception to that. Trevor Lawrence – who, like Watson, played collegiately at Clemson – is the most highly-touted quarterback prospect at least since Andrew Luck, if not Peyton Manning. It would be legitimately shocking to most talent evaluators if he isn’t as good as Watson, and maybe even better in time.
Another factor here is that Lawrence will be playing on a rookie contract for the next four seasons, with the chance for whoever drafts him, presumably the Jaguars, to pick up his fifth-year option. There’s no one that’s going to tell you that Watson isn’t worth the four-year/$156 million deal that he signed last September, but certainly it would be easier to build a team around Lawrence on a rookie contract. Additionally, the Jaguars still have a bounty of other picks obtained from the Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue and Ronnie Harrison trades, ones they could have to part with as part of a hypothetical deal to acquire Watson. If they simply take Lawrence, those picks can be used to further bolster the roster.
On top of compensation considerations, Watson has torn both his left and right ACLs previously. To this point, it hasn’t stopped him from playing at an elite level, but a 2013 study from the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine concluded that after you have ACL reconstruction surgery, you are six times more likely to have another ACL injury than someone who hasn’t had the procedure previously, like Lawrence.
There are small number of teams – the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals – who it makes sense for to not really consider a pursuit of Watson. The Jaguars aren’t quite in that category, but there is enough evidence that Lawrence will be a superstar at the NFL level that it may legitimately make sense for them not to trade the No. 1 overall pick for Watson, even in a world where such a possibility existed.