Reports of the Eagles considering a blockbuster trade to acquire the Houston Texans QB DeShaun Watson should leave fans with one main question: why?
Deshaun Watson to Eagles?
The dynamic superstar has lit up the NFL since being drafted out of Clemson. However, he has grown tired of his team letting weapons like DeAndre Hopkins walk and wants out of town. He might get that but not the way he wants.
Currently, he is the target of over 20 separate accusations of sexual assault and other transgressions against female massage therapists in the region.
While these cases take their course, it seems fair to question whether or not Watson should be suspended by the commissioner. This has happened to other players facing legal troubles, including Adrian Peterson.
The QB role remains a question mark in Philadelphia, albeit not for a lack of competent talent.
Trading Carson Wentz created a void at the most important position in the game (and arguably, all of the pro sports). The Eagles could ship picks to the Texans for their malcontent, but should they?
Will He Fit the Offense?
DeShaun Watson has dazzled as a mobile quarterback since joining the league in 2017. He can throw long passes against defenses who must also respect his running. His 4,823 passing yards led the NFL last season.
The three-time Pro Bowler can help a team like the Eagles become a more potent offense. However, he must fit the scheme and other pieces available.
New head coach Nick Sirianni will likely want to run the ball more, as he did under former Eagles OC Frank Reich in Indianapolis. Whether his new bosses in Philadelphia will let him, is another question.
Watson can throw over packed-in defenses or run through gaps if they play a wider zone. However, that also requires having reliable edge weapons to exploit mismatches. Eagles receivers are not quite the caliber of the Texans’ options.
Will He Fit the Culture?
I’m seeing what Bill Parcells observed about NFL management while coaching the Patriots in the 1990s coming to fruition across the league: “If you want me to cook the meal, you should at least let me shop for the groceries.”
Both Houston and Philly are dealing with the same dilemma over the power balance between on-field staff and upper deck leadership. Doug Pederson was shown the door in January because he couldn’t pick his assistant coaches. Watson’s desire to keep certain players on his team may not sit well with the active owner Jeff Lurie and the seemingly untouchable GM Howie Roseman.
Both Watson and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, also linked to Philadelphia in trade rumors, are having issues with the front offices of their teams. While Tom Brady can leave New England and put together his own super team in Tampa, few have that leverage.
It will be less likely that younger QBs, even those accomplished as Wilson, will have that leeway in changing teams, particularly with involved front offices like those in Philadelphia.
When I worked for the Eagles in 2013, fans had a common gripe when I would contact them for tickets (I was in sales then).
Many refused to buy because they were unhappy with the team starting Michael Vick under center, years after he served federal time for his role in a dogfighting operation in Virginia.
- Legitimate or not, there is a threshold fans have for illegal behavior.
- DeShaun Watson to Eagles may be a potential PR disaster and a huge locker room distraction.
Vick came to Philadelphia after paying his debt to society for one major reason: the former #1 pick was dirt cheap. Taking on Watson’s current contract would put a greater strain on the cap than the one the team just shipped to Indy.
The salary nightmare would be dwarfed by the PR one this signing would cause, especially if Watson is found guilty of more egregious charges than Vick faced.
At the core of this discussion leaves an unanswered question that will likely linger in the region until September: why do we think we need a new QB?
Jalen Hurts was drafted in the second round as an insurance policy, but usually, that’s why you get a QB on Day 3 of the draft. Instead of trading for another veteran hand with a large contract, why not invest in the second-year pivot and let him succeed?
The April draft stands as a major opportunity for the Eagles to build around their roster. Given their aging roster and bloated payroll, they cannot fail.
While elite quarterbacking is the key to success in the NFL, is it really worth all the potential controversy and fallout to bring in DeShaun Watson?