I have received several emails and tweets lately concerning Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and the possibility of him being traded this offseason. With there being so much misinformation out there right now from other sites and media members on that subject, I figured today would not be a bad day to set everyone straight regarding Watson’s contract, what kind of hit the Texans would take would they indeed deal their franchise quarterback, and if the idea of Houston dealing him is a plausible one.
First, let it be known that Watson has a no trade clause in his contract and below is the language of that, per former NFL agent Joel Corry of CBS Sports.
Club shall not be permitted to trade Player’s Contract to any other Club in the NFL during the 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023, 2024 or 2025 NFL League Years without Player’s prior written consent.
Next, and assuming Watson waived his no trade clause to be dealt to a team that he approves of, he is scheduled to earn just $10.54 million in 2021, all of which is fully guaranteed. In short, quite a few teams could easily take on Watsons 2021 salary without issue.
Just so it’s known, Watson’s base salaries past the 2021 season and in order are $35 million, $20 million, $32 million, and $32 million through 2025. Additionally, his 2022 salary of $35 million is fully guaranteed. He’s also due a $17 million roster bonus in March of 2023 and that, along with his $20 million salary for that year, become fully guaranteed in March of 2022.
So, what kind of dead money would the Texans incur if they were to trade Watson to another team before June 1?
In total, the Texans would incur a dead money charge of $21.6 million in 2021 if they were to trade Watson and his contract away to another team. Remember, Watson is already on the books to count $15.94 million against the Texans 2021 salary cap, so trading him away would cost them just $5.66 million more in 2021 space.
Based on what I have outlined above, it’s very plausible that Watson could be dealt away to another team before June 1 and especially if he and the Texans can’t find some common ground on relationship matters and differences. That situation, however, new general manager and all, might be irreconcilable at this point.
Assuming both sides come to an agreement that Watson should go to a new team this offseason, all that’s left at that point is the Texans deciding what sort of compensation they should get for their franchise quarterback.
Personally, I think accepting anything less than three draft picks, two of which need to be first-round selections, and one other no less than a third-round selection, should be the Texans floor compensation request. There’s sure to be at least one team willing to give the Texans that sort of compensation haul in addition to being willing to take on his current contract.
So, several will likely now want to know if there is any way possible that the Pittsburgh Steelers could trade for Watson.
Well, for such a trade to happen, the Steelers would first need to cut quarterback Ben Roethlisberger or get him to retire before the middle of March. Either of those two things happening would result in the Steelers clearing $19 million in 2021 salary cap space.
Next, the Steelers would need the 2021 NFL salary cap number to come in at, near, or above last year’s number of $198.2 million. Should the number come in at the possible floor of $175 million, even getting Roethlisberger out of the picture wouldn’t help the Steelers in acquiring Watson because of his $10.54 million base salary, unless they were given the green light from the player to restructure that 2021 salary of his and thus turn most of it into a signing bonus before the start of the new league year.
On top of everything else, the Steelers would still have to give the Texans trade compensation, which once again should include at least two first-round draft picks and likely another top-three selection in addition. That’s quite a few hoops for any team wanting to acquire Watson via a trade to jump through and especially a team like the Steelers.
If I’m the Texans, I do everything that I can to keep Watson. However, if Watson believes the relationship between the team and he is beyond possible repair, the Texans should attempt to trade him to a team of his liking and at least get a huge haul of top-round draft picks for this year.
So, do I think Watson will be traded this offseason? I think the odds of that happening are good. And no, I do not think Watson will be traded to the Steelers this offseason and especially if Roethlisberger comes back in 2021, which looks likely to be the case already.