Will the Denver Broncos be in the Deshaun Watson trade derby?

Deshaun Watson, Denver Broncos possible trade target. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
Deshaun Watson, Denver Broncos possible trade target. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The Denver Broncos are just two days away from opening training camp. Is a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson still on the table?

The Denver Broncos enter 2021 training camp with plenty of lingering questions. The starting quarterback position, as of right now, is between incumbent starter Drew Lock and trade acquisition Teddy Bridgewater.

Will the Denver Broncos and first-year GM George Paton be in on Houston Texans starter Deshaun Watson?

Up to this point, the Houston Texans have not been willing to relent when it comes to trading their star quarterback, and part of the reason for that has been the fact that Watson is facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct. The other reason he hasn’t been traded up to this point is the fact that the Houston Texans simply don’t want to trade him.

Now, they realize they probably have no choice. According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Texans are (and apparently have been) listening to trade offers for Watson and will deal him for the right price.

According to 850 KOA Denver Broncos insider Benjamin Allbright, the word out of Dove Valley is a reticence on the Broncos’ end to trade a king’s ransom for a guy with lingering issues off the field.

The Broncos’ stance as relayed by Allbright here makes sense and why would any team really want to trade a ton for Watson right now without at least a little clarity on his future?

On Good Morning Football, NFL Network’s James Palmer relayed that over the last four months, Houston Police has been investigating Watson and, up to this point, they haven’t found anything to lead to criminal charges. He did also say that that could change in the future but added that the NFL has not found anything in their investigation separately to suspend Watson or place him on any exempt list or anything.

Ian Rapoport on NFL Network (also during GMFB) stated that there are “teams willing to do that” regarding meeting the Texans’ lofty trade demands amidst Watson’s pending legal issues.

If the Denver Broncos need Watson’s name to be fully legally cleared before attempting to pull off a trade, then they will almost undoubtedly miss out at this point.

The off-field issues are certainly concerning regarding Watson. There have been plenty of rumors throughout the offseason of Watson’s interest in the Denver Broncos and the Broncos have a liaison who has been ‘recruiting’ Watson in safety Kareem Jackson.

Any team acquiring Watson will have to have done substantial research. What that substantial research would look like is anyone’s guess, but there’s no way you can make a truly historic trade for a player without doing proper digging, especially given Watson’s situation.

There’s also the Aaron Rodgers factor here. There’s potential that Rodgers could retire from football for the time being and the Denver Broncos would go into the 2021 season with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater anyways.

George Paton said when he was hired that the Denver Broncos would be “in” on every deal and that he would be aggressive without being reckless. So far, he’s stayed true to that word and Paton did do some initial digging around on the asking price for Matthew Stafford before he was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.

Deshaun Watson — strictly talking about on the field — would solve the Denver Broncos’ quarterback position presumably for the next decade or longer. He is an MVP-caliber player at the position who would truly keep Denver in contention with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The issue is obviously not about what he can do on the field, though.

Watson has a no-trade clause in his contract, so if there are multiple teams making offers to Houston, he will be able to dictate what situation he lands in.

Will the Denver Broncos be in? The assumption at this point in time is no based on the fact that his civil lawsuit issues are unresolved (and won’t be until next year). By the time that is resolved, it’s likely Watson will already be on a new team.

Would trading for Watson be an aggressive risk by George Paton or a reckless one?