The Texans Could Have Their Replacement For Deshaun Watson
By Jared Clifton
Even five years ago, it would seem impossible, if not counterintuitive, to trade a quarterback drafted in the first round just a season ago. There is so much payroll flexibility in having a QB under his rookie contract , with the fifth year option that comes with an initial draft round pick–but, this isn’t a typical situation.
This offseason is set up to be one of the most fluid in terms of QB movement and Aaron Rodgers just claimed his third NFL MVP title and showed that he still has plenty in the tank. Barring a trade demand from the 37 year old Rodgers, Jordan Love is locked out of playing time in the foreseeable future and with a three year window of contention wide open, it could make some sense to shop Love on the back end of the anticipated QB carousel, to any teams that may have missed out on new signal callers.
Now, it must be said, that this scenario is of a lesser likelihood than a lot of the other rumors heating up post Super Bowl. The situation in Green Bay could certainly be year to year and having a groomed successor is a luxury that the Packers can afford. However, even with the draft day trade and capital it took to acquire Love in the 2020 draft, there could be a team willing to pay a viable enough price to get a deal completed. A combination of ready to contribute offensive weapons and Day 2 picks to help replace the potential losses of Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, may be a good start. Here are the three teams that would make sense, should that occur.
Of all the teams that are in QB limbo this off-season, the Texans are at the very top. There have been plenty of rumbling of three team trades that have Deshaun Watson moving over to Green Bay, with Aaron Rodgers to San Francisco and the Texans loading up on draft picks and young controllable talent. With that mechanism, or without, Jordan Love to the Texans is a logical move to make.
While the Texans may be reticent to part with significant draft capital to acquire the former first rounder in a standalone deal, they do have some pieces that could move the needle. Kenny Stills has been an oft discussed target for the Packers the past two deadlines and would provide an immediate compliment to Davante Adams, in an offense that may see a dynamic shift to a more pass-centric approach, should Jones actually leave.
The other piece that they have to send is long time star, JJ Watt. Watt’s time in Houston is likely at it’s end and he wants to go to a contender. There may be no better landing spot for him than Lambeau. There are some cap acrobatics to be done, in order for the money to work, but Watt, Stills and a 2021 third for Jordan Love and Oren Burks is a good starting point for two franchises moving in opposite directions. That would provide David Culley with a potential franchise QB, that would at least be some consolation should Watson be traded.
New York Giants
It’s difficult to tell what the Giants have in Daniel Jones, as he enters his third season in his turnover-prone career. He wasn’t drafted by the current brass and the promise shown in his rookie season was not evident in year two. It’s too early to call for Jones’ head in New York, but Joe Judge and Jason Garrett may also be looking to hedge their bets with a talented project such as Love, to motivate Jones’ or outright pass him on the depth chart.
Garnering high praise for his leadership skills and athleticism at Utah State, he could provide a continuity for a young coaching staff, as they try to build on a season that ended better than expected. With Saquon Barkley coming back from injury and a good core defense in place, the Giants need to see marked improvement in their offense to take the next step and adding another high caliber QB prospect via trade makes more sense than wading into the draft pool this season.
The Giants do have one player that Rodgers world likely covet in any Love deal–Evan Engram. Engram is a cut candidate this season, but he could fill a needed role for the Packers. Robert Tonyan was great this past season, but his numbers scream touchdown regression and a healthy Engram would slot in perfectly as a suitable second weapon for Rodgers. Much like the productive Jimmy Graham years, Engram has the athleticism and youth to put up huge numbers. Engram, LB David Mayo and possibly veteran backup QB Colt McCoy, would make a suitable base to ship the young Love off to the Big Apple.
Conventional wisdom tells us that the Panthers should be in the QB business day one of the 2021 NFL draft, but with the current mock drafts showing a need for Carolina to have to move up to get their guy (Zach Wilson), it may be more prudent for Matt Rhule and Co. to stay right where they are. They’re in a good spot to be able to take game changing LB Micah Parsons and if they can trade for Love, the overall price is less than what it would take to move up six spots for Wilson or even four spots for Fields.
By all accounts, the top five QBs in the 2021 class grade better than Love did out of Utah State, but the Panthers are also far enough away as a team, that their draft capital is extremely important this year and next. Parting with their first, third and fourth this year and first and third next year to get to 2nd overall, greatly diminishes the rebuild. If Wilson, Fields and even Jones are gone in the top six picks, is Trey Lance proven enough to merit the eighth overall pick? It seems like Love is a worthwhile contemporary and gamble to draft best player available (Parson or even Penei Sewell in this scenario).
Robby Anderson, a 2021 third and 2022 third would get the conversation moving, while accomplishing an immediate need filled for Green Bay and not handcuffing the Panthers build-up. Again, this is a trade that makes sense for a contending club and a team trying to get to that contention point. Love can understudy behind Bridgewater until he is ready to take over and with Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel in place as his weapons, his learning curve should be greatly flattened.