Can the Broncos make a good enough trade offer for Deshaun Watson?

Denver Broncos possible 2021 trade target Deshaun Watson. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Broncos possible 2021 trade target Deshaun Watson. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports /

The 2021 offseason is underway and the obvious top story up to this point is that Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson wants out of town.

Even with Matthew Stafford being traded from the Detroit Lions to the Los Angeles Rams for Jared Goff and three picks, as well as Carson Wentz going from the Philadelphia Eagles to the Indianapolis Colts for two picks, Watson is still the one dominating headlines.

In Peter King’s Monday column for NBC Sports, he takes a look at some possible trade scenarios for teams that could pursue Watson around the league, starting with the teams he believes could be the most aggressive.

King also made an interesting note that is worth remembering and keeping at the forefront — teams are not allowed to include draft picks beyond 2023 as part of any trade at this point.

Among the hypothetical trades King throws out was one quick bit about the Denver Broncos.

"Denver does have the ninth pick plus some good young pieces (Garett Bolles?) to offer, and a quarterback with minimal value in Drew Lock, so don’t count new GM George Paton out . .Peter King (latest NBC column)"

It’s interesting that King includes Bolles as a possible young piece that would be going back to the Houston Texans, and obviously, that wouldn’t happen. Although a trade for Watson would undoubtedly bring the Texans a historic value in return, the Broncos (or any team) simply cannot cripple themselves by doing something like that in the process.

In King’s article, he seems to think the most aggressive team for Watson will be the Carolina Panthers. His hypothetical trade involving Carolina included running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receiver Robby Anderson, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, two first-round picks, a second-round pick, and a third-round pick going back to Houston.

Although that is a lot going back to Houston, is it a lot of real value?

Houston would probably want McCaffrey as part of the deal, and Bridgewater could be a capable starter for them for a time. Robby Anderson’s inclusion in there seems odd, because Houston is so depleted right now defensively.

If they were to trade Watson to the Panthers, Carolina would almost undoubtedly have to include Brian Burns and/or Jeremy Chinn, their two best young defensive players right now.

Thinking about a trade with the Houston Texans, you have to put yourself in new general manager Nick Caserio’s shoes. Although Deshaun Watson’s frustrations run deep with the organization, it’s hard to understand his quarrel with Caserio, specifically. Caserio is a first-time general manager who has been working with the New England Patriots for a really long time, and just like new Broncos GM George Paton, he’s turned down a number of other jobs through the years before accepting this one.

Although Watson has some leverage with a no-trade clause, Caserio doesn’t have to trade him for less than a historic return.

Do the Denver Broncos have what it takes to beat the offer of a team like the Carolina Panthers if Watson would approve trades to either team?

I think in order to acquire Watson, the original deal I proposed when these rumors first started popping up would already need to be upgraded.

Thinking about this from the Texans’ perspective, I would want at least three proven starters for Watson if I wasn’t getting the opportunity to draft a quarterback of the future of my choosing in this class.

The Broncos’ 9th overall pick is not a disadvantage, per se, but it’s not overly advantageous for them, either. As valuable as draft picks are, the Broncos could send Houston their next three first-round picks (including 9th overall in 2021) as well as their 40th pick this year, a second-round pick in 2022, and even a second-round pick in 2023 (their top two picks in the 2021-23 drafts) and Houston could easily say no to that offer because they are not getting any actual proven assets in return.

The Broncos might only have to give up first-round picks in 2021 and 2022 as well as second-round picks in those years, but they would almost undoubtedly have to give up a lot in terms of actual proven players to give the Texans an offer they would actually be willing to accept.

Revised Deshaun Watson trade proposal

Broncos get:

  • QB Deshaun Watson

Texans get:

  • OLB Bradley Chubb
  • WR Jerry Jeudy
  • QB Drew Lock
  • 2021 1st-round pick (9th)
  • 2021 2nd-round pick (40th)
  • 2022 1st-round pick
  • 2022 2nd-round pick

Talk about a tough pill to swallow, but how else can the Broncos compete with other offers that could be out there?

In this scenario, the Texans would have to decide that they are okay without any surefire plan for their quarterback of the future. Ultimately, that seems like it will be a massive hangup, but at least they would have replenished their depleted NFL Draft assets.

With Drew Lock, the Texans would at least have a young player at the position on a rookie deal who has started a good amount of games, as well as the Broncos’ top pick in last year’s draft (Jeudy) and Chubb, a Pro Bowl defender off the edge.

With the 9th pick, Houston could then take the best QB left on the board (Justin Fields, Trey Lance, Mac Jones) or they could punt that need for a later time.

Obviously, that scenario is not ideal for Houston in terms of moving on from an elite franchise quarterback. For Denver, it brings in the big-name QB but obviously, you are parting with two key pieces of your core on offense and defense with Jeudy and Chubb.

Considering the fact that right now, Chubb is one of just a couple of guys defensively who are both young and established studs for the Broncos, it could be especially tough.

But if this is enough to get a deal done with Houston, would you pull the trigger on it? From Denver’s perspective, you would almost undoubtedly do it. You might grit your teeth for a split second, but ultimately, you would do the deal.

If you’re Houston, you would only be doing this deal because there is no option for the future with Watson that involves him as a Texan. Still, this deal would represent a historic return for Houston in terms of both draft selections and players coming back, and those young pieces are some the Texans’ fan base could get on board for supporting.