The ongoing fantasy in which disgruntled Texans star quarterback Deshaun Watson’s lands with the Bears got a bit more tantalizing Thursday with the revelation that he formally requested a trade.
It’s a nice dream, with the Bears correcting general manager Ryan Pace’s egregious error of bypassing him in favor of Mitch Trubisky in the 2017 NFL Draft, but it’s just a tease.
At least half the league will want Watson, and the Bears are far from the front of the line in terms of compelling the Texans to make a deal and presenting themselves as an attractive destination for Watson.
Watson has a no-trade clause, and his apprehension about joining the Bears would surely go beyond the snub of their disinterest in him leading up to the draft. The Bears have done little to show they won’t squander his prime the way the Texans have, and he would be walking into a situation in which Pace and coach Matt Nagy are likely to be fired if they don’t win.
And if that happened, it would be déjà vu. Watson’s frustration with the Texans is that they didn’t make him part of the process in hiring a new general manager and coach, and the Bears aren’t the type of organization to give any player that level of input. The McCaskeys run this team, and they don’t appear to be looking for a partner.
If the Bears attempt to join an extremely competitive market for Watson, reality will knock them down quickly. It might be unprecedented that a quarterback of his caliber is available at just 25, and few teams in the NFL are satisfied enough with the one they’ve got to ignore him.
Jay Cutler was 25, by the way, when the Bears landed him for two first-round picks and other assets in 2009. He was a promising talent but nowhere near what Watson is. In his four seasons in the NFL, Watson ranks fourth in passer rating (104.5) and ninth in yards passing (14,539) and touchdown passes (104).
The best the Bears can put on the table as a starting point is their first-round pick this year (No. 20) and next. The Dolphins, for example, could offer 2020 first-round quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, and they have two first-round and two second-round picks this year.
Considering how things have gone for the Bears with Trubisky and Nick Foles at quarterback, there’s almost no price too high for Watson, but the willingness to pay that price doesn’t matter as much as the actual ability to do so.
And that’s before even considering the salary-cap gymnastics that would be necessary for the tight-budget Bears to afford a player whose four-year, $160 million extension starts next season.
That leaves the Bears unable to overwhelm the Texans, unable to convince Watson and out of the conversation.
And still without a quarterback.
Even Pace and Nagy aren’t so delusional to bet their employment on Trubisky, a pending free agent, or Foles. They’ll be looking for an upgrade. But instead of making a real play for Watson, they’ll have to hope his potential move creates a fortuitous domino effect that frees up someone else for them.