We got some insight on what it would take for a Deshaun Watson trade on Sunday. Houston radio host John McClain tweeted that the Texans will be looking for two first round picks, two second round picks, and two young defensive starters.
Granted, McClain probably has no idea what the Texans are really looking for. However, it doesn’t seem unreasonable that something similar to this is what Houston will be looking for. Using those parameters we came up with a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Our trade proposal is TJ Watt, Terrell Edmunds, and two first round picks.
Most Steelers fans would lose their minds seeing this trade offer. The thought of losing one of the premiere pass rushers in the league in TJ Watt is unimaginable to most. But the NFL is a quarterback driven league. We saw what happened in 2019 when the Steelers had one of the best defenses in the league, and no quarterback. They barely got to 8-8, and missed the playoffs.
Let’s go over all the ways this trade makes too much sense for the Steelers not to do:
It’s Deshaun freakin Watson:
If you were designing a list of quarterbacks you would want for the next ten years Deshaun Watson would be second only to Patrick Mahomes. This is a player who is only 25, and in the prime of his career. Add to that the fact he is under contract for the next five years.
Players like this never, ever become available. When NFL teams find their franchise quarterback they simply keep them for the majority of their careers. Often when stars at other positions become available, its because of issues they have had off the field issues. Watson has been a model citizen since joining the Texans, and only now has demanded a trade due to the way the franchise is run. There are no character concerns with this player whatsoever.
Bottom line, Deshaun Watson is a top five quarterback in the prime of his career. The Steelers simply can not afford to sit by and watch another team snatch this player up. Franchise quarterbacks are just too hard to come by.
There is no price too high:
Losing TJ Watt in this scenario hurts, there is no two ways around it. Watt is about to become the defensive player of the year in the NFL, and he is only 26 years old himself. Having said that, we would trade a top tier edge rusher for a top tier quarterback every day of the week. As we will stress throughout this piece, there is nothing more important than having a franchise quarterback in this league.
As far as the first round picks are concerned, this team can get along without them. We only need to look to last year’s draft to see how well Kevin Colbert did without one. It’s early, but it appears he pulled off at least three impact starters in Chase Claypool, Kevin Dotson, and Alex Highsmith. With more playing time, Anthony McFarland could very well be a fourth on that list. This is the advantage the Steelers have with their front office and scouting department. KevinColbert can make due just fine without first round picks for two years.
Woud you believe that both Deshaun Watson and TJ Watt have the exact same salary cap hit in 2021? Both are set to make $10 million next season. So basically its a wash for the cap strapped Steelers. Watson’s big extension doesn’t kick in until 2022. Which would be perfect for the Steelers since they would be clear of any dead money leftover from the Ben Roethlisberger contract. In fact, according to Over the Cap the Steelers have the most cap space in the NFL in 2022 at a projected $171 million. https://overthecap.com/salary-cap-space/
Speaking of Deshaun Watson’s extension, when it does kick in he will be set to average $35 million per season through 2025. The way quarterback contracts escalate, this is sure to look like a bargain in no time. Keep in mind to that TJ Watt will need an extension this off-season. He will easily command $30 million per in any new deal. Joey Bosa of the Chargers just signed a deal worth $27 million, and he hasn’t put anywhere near the numbers Watt has.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are in very real danger of falling hopelessly behind their competitors going forward. If we are being honest, there is very little chance this team can realistically get by the Chiefs or the Bills in 2021. Looking even further down the road, teams like the Browns, Chargers, Ravens, and Dolphins may already have their franchise quarterbacks gaining valuable experience. Every year the Steelers cling to an aging Ben Roethlisberger, they allow their rivals more time to gain distance from them. Acquiring Deshaun Watson would leapfrog the Steelers back to a top three team in the AFC minimum going forward.
Despite the reservations of trading TJ Watt, this trade is a no-brainer from the Steelers perspective. They would land a premier quarterback for the next ten years at least. With the money they would save from moving on from Ben Roehtlisberger’s contract, the team could resign Bud Dupree and Ju Ju Smith Schuster. Now imagine a slightly worse defense, with an immensely improved offense for 2021. The Steelers would instantly become one of the favorites in the AFC, and a real Super Bowl threat. This is a trade Pittsburgh would be foolish not to make.
For more on what the salary cap would look like without Ben Roethlisberger, check out our post here on Fixing the Steelers Step Two Fixing the Steelers Step Two: Cuts, Keeps, and Extensions