Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson, the player the Bears egregiously bypassed in the 2017 NFL Draft, is officially on the market.
Watson formally requested a trade, multiple media outlets reported, and that opens the door for the Bears to make their best pitch to him and the Texans. Not only would they need to offer a strong trade package in what figures to be a highly competitive pursuit, but they’d need to impress Watson enough for him to waive his no-trade clause.
Talent like this isn’t available often, and at least half the league is expected to make a run at trading for Watson.
A three-time Pro Bowler at just 25, he has dominated the NFL ever since the Texans drafted him No. 12 overall in 2017 — the same year Bears general manager Ryan Pace chose Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 and the Chiefs landed reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes at No. 10.
Over his four seasons in the NFL, Watson has ranked fourth in passer rating (104.5) and ninth in yards passing (14,539) and touchdown passes (104).
While the Bears are limited in what they could offer as far as draft picks, they do have their first- and second-round selections in all future drafts. They’re also highly motivated to upgrade at quarterback after how poorly things have gone since they cut Jay Cutler.
With Trubisky set to become an unrestricted free agent in March, Nick Foles is their only quarterback under contract for next season. After the Bears traded a fourth-round pick and committed to a three-year, essentially guaranteed contract worth $24 million, Foles’ debut season was a mess. He had an 80.8 passer rating and threw 10 touchdowns against eight interceptions in nine games before being benched as the Bears went back to Trubisky late in the season.
Any asking price for Watson would be worth it for the Bears.
For all the reasons the Bears and the rest of the NFL would make a run at Watson, the Texans are highly incentivized to keep him. He is under contract through 2025, and finding a way to patch things up with Watson — or simply continuing to play him through his discontent — is almost certainly better than any alternative.
If the Texans were willing to deal their star, teams with the highest and most draft picks would seem to have a better shot than the Bears. The Jaguars and Jets have the top two selections this year and both need a quarterback. Another rumored trade package had the Dolphins building their offer around former first-round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and a first-round pick, for example, which would appear to put the bidding beyond the Bears’ capacity.