A Deshaun Watson Trade & CAP Implications
Trading Watson right now would cost a cap hit of $15,940,000 for this season and the acquiring team would need to be prepared for the $40.4 million hit next season and beyond. However, Watson’s contract compared to other QBs is relatively cheap and goes down in the final 2 years ending with a $32 million hit in 2025. By then we should see a giant cap increase thanks to the new TV deal coming in and expect QB prices to escalate to probably be around $50-55 million a year for the top 5 where he currently sits in per year average.
First, let’s eliminate those teams that will not be looking to acquire him: Chiefs, Bills, Cowboys, Packers (too cheap), 49ers (too cap tight and Lance), Jaguars, Bengals, Titans, Chargers, Browns, Saints, Bears, Raiders, Ravens, Jets, Vikings, Buccaneers, Lions, Cardinals, Giants, Rams, Patriots.
Now let’s look at all those who could look at acquiring him assuming the cost is what we have heard from the recent reports three 1sts plus:
Falcons – With only $2.3 million in cap room and Matt Ryan not really cuttable until after the 22 season, they are unlikely to trade for him but definitely need to address this situation. However, they are still in a rebuild with that defense and need to keep the picks for this. Odds of trading for Watson 1%.
Colts – Currently they only have $2.5 million in cap room. They would have to move some players to make this work for this year. Wentz, who just acquired, has had mixed reviews, and there are grumblings about the locker room being slowly lost already. They would have to find a suitor for Wentz which would be unlikely at this time. Odds of trading for Watson 2%.
Seahawks - They have $11.7 million in cap room and Russell Wilson at one point was extremely unhappy with the Seahawks. However, they seem to have addressed this with him, but this feels like a move that Schneider might try to pull off. They haven’t exactly hit with their first-round picks so it would not be a huge sacrifice for them to move those. However, their Defense needs more help than the offense and I would expect them to focus on that side for improvements. Not having their first in 22 also hurts their odds. Odds of trading for Watson 5%.
WFT – They have $13.75 million in cap room so would have to clear some space out for this. But the regression their Defense has taken has put more pressure on this team to solve the QB issue. Heinicke has not been bad in his starts and so they may opt to keep the draft capital needed to acquire Watson and instead continue to build around him and a rookie next year. Ron is also a no-nonsense guy and may not wish to bring Watson in. Odds of trading for Watson 10%.
Panthers – As with the Broncos, they also have the cap room without sending anything back but picks with $19.3 million. However, Darnold emerging out of the curse of Adam Gase has likely eliminated them from considering Watson. Odds of trading for Watson 10%.
Broncos – Currently they have $16.7 million in cap space and could take him on without sending any contracts back to add to their roster. However, with how well Teddy Bridgewater is playing for them, they would likely ride out his contract that the Panthers are paying for this year and look for Rodgers next offseason. However, that then only leaves Lock as a signed QB next year on the roster, and Paton is not tied to him other than inheriting him on the roster. Odds of trading for Watson 25%
Steelers – They have just under $11 million in cap and would need to move some players to make this work, but we all see Ben is at the end and they need to think long term. They have the cap space upcoming to take on Watson and not hamstring themselves after signing TJ Watt to that extension as well. Odds of trading for Watson 30%.
Eagles – Currently they have the cap space for this year, $16.2 million, but next year only has $23.6 million and would have to either send out some contracts if they traded for him and then not have cap room for any other moves. This would mean letting Goedert walk as well as Ertz who is also already on a void year in 22' where they are paying him to not play for them. So, they would lose out on talent and the picks to rebuild the offensive line and help the defense. I would be surprised if they made this move but instead kept Hurts and ensured their coaches used pre-snap motions and didn’t just try to run twice with their RB s in a game. They have the picks needed to make this move but their cap space over the next couple of years suggests they may roll with Hurts. Odds of trading for Watson 35%.
Dolphins – Currently they only have $1.67 million in cap room but rumors swirl the hardest around them as being the top suitor. I have read reports that they would move Tua to Washington (although several teams are in the mix for Tua) if they were to acquire Watson. They have the draft capital, an owner who wants him, and the cap space next year to pay him easily. With the young core they are building around they could jettison DeVante Parker in a trade and save $9.4 million in cap space while still giving their team lots of WR weapons. Like the Eagles, they also have the picks to make this move and could move some of their players in a deal to offset sending all those picks as well. Odds of trading for Watson 60%.