There has been no shortage of speculation on where Deshaun Watson will end up in 2022. Pittsburgh has not been mentioned as one of his destinations just yet. We can’t imagine Watson not wanting to play for a coach like Mike Tomlin however. There would be several complications in the Steelers acquiring Deshaun Watson, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t happen. Let’s go over the pros and cons on what would be a very complicated move if the Steelers were to ever decide they wanted this player:
Obviously Deshaun Watson’s play on the field speaks for itself. This is a player who is still only 26 years old, and at the very top of any quarterback conversation. In just 2020 alone, Watson threw for nearly 5,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. He is the prototypical modern quarterback who can both run and pass. Basically Deshaun Watson is everything you want in a quarterback in todays NFL.
The Steelers have set themselves back years chasing one last Super Bowl with Ben Roethlisberger. They ignored serious deficiencies while trying to prop up Big Ben. All in the hopes of squeezing one more great year out of him. The results of that are a roster littered with holes that will take years to fix. The chances of this team being competitive in the AFC are slim to none in 2022. That is unless they make a “swing for the fences” type move like trading for Deshaun Watson. He alone could overcome many of the offensive shortcomings, and make this team a force next season. There aren’t many players who could do this, but Watson is one of them.
The Los Angeles Rams showed the NFL world that the stars and scrubs methodology can work. Put a handful of star players in the right places, and fill out the roster with replacement level talent. Pittsburgh already has all world talent in player like TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cam Heyward. Throw in some very useful players like Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, and Pat Freiermuth and that has the makings of something. Next throw in an elite talent like Deshaun Watson, and this team could easily become the next Los Angeles Rams.
There’s always a reason why an elite player becomes available. It’s either an unhappy player wanting out, injury concerns, or off the field issues. In Deshaun Watson’s case, it’s the latter. He has several sexual misconduct accusers pressing charges in both civil, and criminal court. These cases seem no closer to coming to a conclusion either. Any team acquiring Watson not only faces a good deal of risk, but also the stigma that goes along with making this player the face of your franchise.
The compensation aspect is a fascinating dilemma. What exactly is Deshaun Watson worth in a trade? We are talking about a supremely talented quarterback in the prime of his career, but with some serious baggage in tow. The Texans have held firm to their asking price of several first round picks, and players as well. That’s a heavy price to pay for a player who could be facing league suspension, and possibly jail time. Mortgaging the future of your franchise with this type of risk isn’t something most teams are willing to do.
We’ve been over several quarterback options for the Steelers so far this off-season, and none of them is close to the talent level as Deshaun Watson. Marcus Mariota perfect fit in Pittsburgh?
The Pittsburgh Steelers currently face the very real possibility of wasting the prime years of TJ Watt, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Cam Heyward. Drafting a quarterback now, or adding a lesser one via free agency essentially closes out any hope of a championship for Heyward. It does nearly the same for the other two stars as well.
The question is does Art Rooney II have the stomach to allow something like the Steelers acquiring Deshaun Watson to happen? The answer is probably not. This is not the type of franchise known for taking huge risks. They are way more likely to draft a quarterback in 2022, and begin the long rebuilding process.