But there are some key questions: is this a move the Bears should be seriously considering? What’s the likelihood of Watson agreeing to the move? What are potential drawbacks for Chicago of what could be a blockbuster of a deal?
Why the Bears should be all in on a Watson trade
The passing game
As we all know, Watson was one of the quarterbacks passed over by Bears general manager Ryan Pace when he drafted Mitchell Trubisky with the 2nd overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft. Clearly, that move has not worked out with Trubisky being outplayed by both Watson and Patrick Mahomes.
The Bears turned down the 5th year option on Trubisky’s rookie contract and whilst he had some bright moments this year against inferior defenses such as the Lions and the Texans, he hasn’t produced the sustained level of performance needed for the Bears to truly be a contender in the postseason.
We don’t really need to go into the strengths that Watson has. Let’s face it, what he has done with a poor supporting cast, the trading away of his best weapon in the passing game, and whilst playing for a franchise suffering from dysfunction, is phenomenal.
Chicago hasn’t had a true franchise quarterback in generations. Watson would give them a player who could put the offense on his back and immediately reenergise the passing game, where he would have weapons such as rookies Darnell Mooney and Cole Kmet.
If Watson came to the Windy City, it may bolster the Bears’ attempts to re-sign receiver Allen Robinson, who may be willing to take a discount in his new contract to play with one of the league’s best quarterbacks.
Strengthening offensive weaknesses
For the past two seasons, the Bears offensive line has been somewhat of a disaster. It came together late in the year with the introduction of undrafted linemen Sam Mustipher and Alex Bars, and was also helped in this improvement with Trubisky’s mobility.
From NFL Now: The #Texans have received plenty of calls on Deshaun Watson, and that will continue. From the #Jets to the #Bears to #Panthers, who'll make a strong push, to many others. One of the most robust trade markets we've seen. pic.twitter.com/uMpnK6iYP0
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 28, 2021
Watson’s mobility would be an improvement on this and might further aid a young line in its development. Plus, the former Clemson quarterback’s dual threat ability would help avoid the stacked boxes running back David Montgomery faced this year. With teams knowing Trubisky would rarely try to or be able to beat them deep, they could crowd the line of scrimmage ready to bottle up Montgomery or fly to pass catchers in the short to intermediate passing game. Watson would help keep defenses honest, allowing Montgomery more space to operate in.
This is a make-or-break year for Ryan Pace and Matt Nagy
Despite fan dissatisfaction, the McCaskey family, who own the franchise, chose to hang onto Pace and head coach Matt Nagy. That likely makes this a key year for both men in retaining their jobs with the Bears.
Whilst Pace has had tremendous success in the mid to later rounds of the draft, his failure to identify a long-term answer under center is what has put him under most pressure. That could persuade him to go all in for Watson. In addition, the argument could be made that the loss of earlier round picks therefore would be mitigated by Pace’s ability to find value in the later rounds of the draft.
Nagy has shown he can help build a system around a transcendent quarterback with Mahomes in Kansas City. Watson would provide him with a top talent to elevate the offense to the level of production many in Chicago hoped when they hired the former Chiefs offensive coordinator. In addition, it would help Nagy avoid any of the teething issues of starting a rookie from this year’s draft. If the Bears want to draft a player who can start immediately at quarterback, they would have to move up in the first round this year. If Pace and Nagy are likely to give up draft picks to get a signal caller, why not go for a sure thing?
Why the Bears might have second thoughts
You wouldn’t find many fans opposed to the idea of Watson in navy and orange, but it’s also clear this roster has a number of holes that need addressing through the draft.
Signing Watson would take up a large amount of cap space that the team doesn’t really have, meaning they may be unable to re-sign Robinson if he holds out for top 5 receiver money. That would mean the Bears would have to search for a bona fide number one receiver, as well as potentially players to replace Javon Wims and Anthony Miller on the depth chart.
On the O-line, the team likely needs two replacement tackles given the declining production of left tackle Charles Leno Jr and the age of right tackle Bobby Massie. Loss of draft picks in a deal for Watson would limit Pace’s ability to address these needs, especially given premier offensive linemen are highly expensive in free agency.
Adding a rotational pass rusher as well as an inside linebacker as Danny Trevathan gets older, are also needs which may get pushed further down the to do list with a loss of draft picks.
Would Watson be interested?
On the one hand, the Texans might be keen to trade Watson to the NFC to send him outside the conference. Watson would get the opportunity to join a team with some pieces that could be used to build the team to a contender within the next few years, as well as joining one of the NFL’s best supported franchises.
Word I get is the Bears have made inquiries on Deshaun Watson and Matthew Stafford. The soon to be ex-Lions QB has them listed among his top four destinations.
It seems unlikely the Lions would trade him here.
— George Ofman (@georgeofman) January 28, 2021
But Watson may be given pause by the organisational issues that have plagued the Bears for years and are seen by some as a key reason why the team has lacked sustained success. Would he feel he is swapping a dysfunctional organisation for one which has shown it cannot build a contender?
Equally, are Pace and Nagy likely to be viewed as lame ducks in their current role? Given the questions around their long-term job status, teams like the Dolphins may be more attractive given the fact head coach Brian Flores and GM Chris Grier appear to be locked in for a number of years in South Beach.
The Bears have to be considered a longshot destination for Watson, but undoubtedly one that are exploring all possible options to attract one of the faces of the NFL to the franchise.