Deshaun Watson trade could spark free agent splash like 2014
The Denver Broncos are rumored to be interested in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson in a trade that would likely include three or four first-round draft picks, quarterback Drew Lock, and some defensive starters.
As it turns out, Watson could be interested in the Broncos, too.
While that would mean giving up a lot for a player, it would probably be very worth it.
Back in 2012, the Broncos signed quarterback Peyton Manning in free agency. That acquisition turned into a 45-12 record, a 55 passing touchdown season, two Super Bowl appearances and one Super Bowl victory.
It also started a trend in which star players chose to sign with the Broncos in free agency. In 2014, the Broncos signed a bunch of star players, including DeMarcus Ware, T.J. Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, and Aqib Talib.
As of right now, it is unknown what the future salary cap will be. The expectation is that it will go up by a significant amount. Add that to the Broncos’ rollover of $17.78 million, this could very well be a possibility.
Deshaun Watson cap hits for the remainder of his contract are as follows:
2021: $10.5 million
2022: $35 million
2023: $37 million
2024: $32 million
2025: $32 million
This from Over The Cap:
"The extension is worth $156 million in new money with $73.716 million fully guaranteed at signing. Watson received a $27 million signing bonus and guaranteed salaries in 2020-2022. On (presumably) the 5th day of the 2022 league year, Watson’s 2023 salary and $17 million roster bonus vest into a full guarantee. At signing the 2023 salary and bonus are guaranteed for injury only. Watson has the opportunity to raise his salary in 2022-2025 by $1 million each year (through escalator) if the team wins the Super Bowl in the previous season, and Watson participates in 50% of the offensive snaps during the Super Bowl."
The Texans are reportedly interested in some defensive starters, as well as at least four draft picks. Nobody truly knows which of those players on the Broncos could be in a potential trade, but hypothetically, they could send higher-paid defensive players to the Texans, freeing up some cap space.
Free Agency impact if Deshaun Watson becomes a Bronco
While they would be giving up a ton of things for Watson, the fact that they would have a quality starter at the quarterback position could convince future free agents to sign with the team, making the loss of those high draft picks less painful.
One of those possibilities the team might look at is signing a high profile defensive lineman. Scheduled to become free agents are Jadeveon Clowney, Leonard Williams, Yannick Ngakoue, among others. The Broncos could lose several defensive linemen in free agency this year, as four of them are unrestricted free agents.
They also need help at the cornerback position and many people have linked that position to the ninth overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Even still, they could go big in free agency at the position.
Some of the players at that position that they could get are Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, or Josh Norman.
If the Broncos want the sort of free agent class like they got in 2014, an upgrade at the quarterback position is absolutely necessary. At this point, it doesn’t necessarily have to be in 2021, but the opportunity to lock on to a star quarterback does not happen every year.
Acquiring Watson could lead to bigger things than people think.