- The Dolphins are at the forefront of Deshaun Watson trade rumors
- Watson wants out of Houston this offseason
- Should Miami trade for the superstar quarterback?
As the playoffs continue, the NFL offseason for the teams who aren’t still fighting is very much underway, with two such teams at the forefront of conversation being the Miami Dolphins and the Houston Texans. These two teams have been linked since rumours of a possible Deshaun Watson trade started circulating.
It is incredibly easy to suggest a trade that would bring in such a prolific player would obviously be a good idea. However, with a blockbuster trade in consideration there are a lot of different moving parts, and many different factors have to be weighed up on both sides.
Some are suggesting Watson might sit out if not traded. If the Texans really are behind the eight ball with the star quarterback, and they are looking for a trade, there is a simple question: Should the Miami Dolphins make the offer that they’re waiting for?
Potential Dolphins trade package for Deshaun Watson
Possibly the most intriguing part of this trade is the fact that Tua Tagovailoa would probably have to be central to it. The Alabama quarterback was selected 5th overall in 2020 and had nine starts this season.
In those starts, he had a completion rate of 64%, but only threw for 1,805 yards and his TD to INT ratio of 11-5 was quite disappointing.
Tagovailoa is still very early in his career. He was drafted high for a reason. The offense was lacking weapons this year, and he has a lot of room to grow, especially as the Dolphins inevitably plan to continually upgrade that side of the ball.
That potential, though, is what gives Tua enough value to make the trade possible. But the value baked into the Hawaiian QB would still leave the Texans wanting plenty more, and that is where the draft capital has to bridge the gap.
Alongside Tagovailoa, the Dolphins would likely have to send their 3rd overall pick in 2021 [which actually came courtesy of Houston themselves] as well as the 18th [their own], at minimum. Miami might even had to add a 2022 first-rounder to that.
So, the Dolphins wouldn’t just be sending away their young QB for Watson, they’d be giving up the capital that they should be spending to improve the unit around him. Would you rather have a less developed QB, or the certified superstar but with downgraded weapons and a notable delay on strengthening elsewhere?
Dolphins trade for Deshaun Watson: Salary cap impact
The deal would be expensive, but then after that, so would having Deshaun Watson.
In 2021, he would be affordable, with a cheap salary of just $10.5 million. However, trading Tua would essentially offset the discount, because they’d take a massive $14.7m cap hit for him too.
The 2022 season and beyond is where it hits, though. The Houston QB’s salary shoots way up to $35million, followed by years of $37m, $32m and $32m, through 2025.
This is obviously much more expensive than having a developing rookie quarterback, and I think this is arguably an even bigger issue than spending the draft picks.
Losing out on the ability to draft young talent isn’t ideal, but to lose that while simultaneously eating up the cap space you’d be using to pay any free agents who would fill the void they leave makes this trade very risky. When there are free agents like Allen Robinson, Kenny Golladay and Will Fuller available at a position the Dolphins need, they might be able to do without picks, but without the financial flexibility either?
This doesn’t even take into account the costs associated with players already on the team, who they would want to extend or want a pay rise, such as Xavien Howard.
The Miami Dolphins missed the playoffs by the thinnest of margins, putting up a very respectable 10-6 record, which they earned through absolutely phenomenal defensive play. Their offense leaves room for improvement, no doubt, but this team outperformed expectations, and could very easily have claimed a spot in the postseason.
Adding a certified franchise QB to the mix would absolutely help to elevate the offense, but there are two problems with the deal that make it much more difficult than it sounds on paper; firstly, Tua could be a franchise QB, and if they act prematurely, they miss out on him growing as a player. Secondly, bringing in Watson sacrifices so much other value, both through draft picks and cap space that could be spent in free agency, that it would actually weaken the other positions.
It’s impossible to know which side will play out best down the line, but I think that the best bet for Miami is to use their draft picks and free agency budget wisely and try to fill the offense with weapons that will elevate Tua, and let Houston try and work out a Deshaun Watson trade with a different suitor. The Dolphins can only hope that said suitor doesn’t also belong to the AFC East.