Patriots

What a Deshaun Watson trade to Miami would mean for Patriots

Miami pulling off a trade for star quarterback Deshaun Watson -- if he can play amid legal issues -- could hurt the Patriots long-term.

Deshaun Watson Texans Dolphins
Deshaun Watson. Justin Rex/AP
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Things could (reportedly) get extremely interesting for the AFC East — including the Patriots — by the end of this week.

Whispers out of Houston suggest the Texans are in “serious” discussions to trade star quarterback Deshaun Watson to the Miami Dolphins — one of New England’s division rivals — possibly by the end of the week.

A Watson-to-Miami trade reportedly isn’t imminent yet, and the reports (largely coming from Houston) could be seen as an attempt to sweeten the deal before the Texans part ways with their quarterback.

But the two sides have been heading for a breakup for a while.

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Watson, who requested a trade this offseason and has been mired in legal issues, has not played a game this season for the team that drafted him No. 11 overall in 2017. The team has kept him on the 53-man roster and made him inactive all year.

But when he’s been on the field, he’s been excellent, throwing for 14,539 yards and 104 touchdowns in his career and twice leading the Texans to the playoffs.

Though the 26-year-old has a no-trade clause on his four-year, $156 million contract, Miami is said to be one of the teams he’d be interested in playing for.

Just like that, a team that has lost five straight games since knocking off the Patriots in the season-opener could end up with one of the best young quarterbacks in football.

Make no mistake: that could be a serious problem for the New England Patriots’ long-term goals.

What does it means for the Patriots?

First, let’s address the elephant in the room: even if the Dolphins did swing a trade for him, Watson’s availability for the 2021 season is far from assured.

The quarterback is currently facing 22 civil lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct — none of which have yet been resolved. Both the FBI and NFL have been looking into the allegations though no charges have been brought nor suspensions leveled against Watson.

Still, that doesn’t mean the NFL wouldn’t put Watson on the Commissioner’s Exempt List to potentially stop him from playing in a game until his cases are judged.

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A trade going through for Watson could indicate confidence that his legal troubles won’t keep him off the field, but it’s still a gamble.

That said, if Watson does play for the Dolphins this season and going forward, the Patriots could be in major trouble.

For one thing, he tends to play well against New England, averaging nearly 264 passing yards and a passer rating of 102.1 a game and throwing eight touchdowns versus three interceptions in four career contests against the Patriots per Pro Football Reference.

Secondly, Watson’s presence could change the power structure in the AFC East for as long as he’s here.

One could argue Watson is on the same level — if not better — than Josh Allen, who is far and away the best quarterback in the division at this moment. Though Mac Jones is coming along well in his rookie season, he’s not close to either of those players.

With Watson just 26 years old and Allen only 25, it’s conceivable the Patriots might be stuck with the third-best quarterback in the division for a long time to come. And if Zach Wilson stops throwing the ball to other teams so much and the Jets get him situated? That’d be a nightmare. But that’s still (hopefully) up in the air.

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A more immediate horror flick: watching Watson chuck it deep to Jaylen Waddle the way he used to light it up with Will Fuller (who’s also with the Dolphins right now) while the two were in Houston together.

Of course, it’s not likely adding Watson would magically make the Dolphins a good team this year. But next year and the year after (assuming he is allowed to play)? Simply having him on the team would make Miami playoff contenders — and make the Patriots’ path to the postseason harder as a result.

That’s the reality that could be facing New England as early as the end of this week.

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