Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) waves to fans as he leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Houston. The Bengals won 37-31. (AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith)
- Denver Broncos emerge as top betting option to land DeShaun Watson by trade
- Broncos package centers around young quarterback Drew Lock and draft picks
- Read below to see where we think Watson could play QB next season
Step aside, Carolina and Miami. There’s a new frontrunner in the DeShaun Watson sweepstakes.
On Thursday, the Denver Broncos shot to the top of the charts as the betting favorite to land the disgruntled Houston Texans’ pivot, should the organization break from its stance of refusing to trade their star player.
Odds on Deshaun Watson’s Next Team if Traded
|San Francisco 49ers||+500|
|New York Jets||+600|
|New England Patriots||+1500|
|Washington Football Team||+1700|
|New Orleans Saints||+5000|
|New York Giants||+5000|
Odds from FanDuel from February 18
Denver has struggled since Peyton Manning retired, and John Elway stepped down from his GM duties, leaving newly named George Paton with the task of landing a star quarterback to lead the Broncos back to respectability. Let’s see if this is a wager that has some legs.
Broncos Not Locked on Drew
The quarterback carousel in Denver was supposed to stop at Drew Lock, but a second-year regression has the Broncos looking for an upgrade. Denver reportedly feels Lock is in a middle tier of quarterback play, and won’t pursue a quarterback that isn’t at elite status.
Think Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott or Watson. It’s likely the reason Denver wasn’t connected to any Carson Wentz trade talks, as the Indianapolis Colts acquired him today for a pair of draft picks. It will likely take Lock and at least two first round picks to pry Watson away.
Where do things stand at QB for the #broncos this offseason? Here’s what I’ve gathered and it could tell you a few things as to where everything stands with their thinking. My report on NFL NOW on @nflnetwork pic.twitter.com/Mc3EX9VLde
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) February 17, 2021
In 13 games with the Broncos last season, Lock completed 57.3% of his passes for 2,933 yards with 16 TD passes and 15 interceptions. The big-armed QB was supposed to be able to stretch the field, but inconsistency hitting the deep ball led to a 6.6 yards per pass attempt average.
Part of the hope in Lock was a rookie year where he went 4-1 when taking over the starting job. Still one of the best performances of his career came in a win over Watson and the Texans, when he went 22-for-29 for 309 yards and three TD passes.
The #Broncos QB Drew Lock looked great in week 14 win over the Texans.. 309 yards passing and 3 TD’s.. pic.twitter.com/m6VR1SY6uj
— J.T. Lambeta (@LambetaJ) December 11, 2019
Denver still has the bones of a good defense that can be coached up under Vic Fangio. Von Miller, who missed all of last year with an ankle injury, could come back to anchor that unit. And there a lot of young, promising weapons that Watson could certainly elevate.
Courtland Sutton will be back from a knee injury, and Jerry Jeudy, Noah Fant, Melvin Gordon and Philip Lindsay make a very promising group that could at least trade blows with KC in the AFC West.
Can George Paton Make a Deal?
Paton has been the right-hand man of Vikings GM Rick Spielman for the past 12 years, and has had many offers before taking the Denver job and ushering Elway back to Team President role.
Their talent evaluation has been stellar, drafting gems that include Justin Jefferson, Danielle Hunter, Dalvin Cook and Stefon Diggs, while also signing Adam Thielen as an little-known free agent.
Denver Broncos new GM George Paton on his philosophy. pic.twitter.com/l6wKkGnmjn
— ᴄᴀᴍᴇʀᴏɴ ᴘᴀʀᴋᴇʀᴾᴼ (@CameronParkerPO) January 19, 2021
But Minnesota has only made one big splash at the quarterback position, when they signed Kirk Cousins to a free agent deal. Cousins has been good-but-not-great, and his time with the Vikes will probably best be known as the guy who signed the first-ever fully guaranteed contract in the NFL.
The best way for Paton to shine would probably be having a top-flight quarterback that he’s placed there. The next best scenario would be if a deal fell through and Lock returned as starter and shined. It will be interesting to see which way he goes.
What’s the Best Bet?
It’s surprising to me that Denver hasn’t been more prominent in trade talks until now. The Broncos have a roster that is reminiscent of the group prior to Manning’s arrival: talented, but a star away from making noise.
.@damienwoody explains why he’d like to see Deshaun Watson on the Broncos 👀 pic.twitter.com/FC8BvrwZDu
— Get Up (@GetUpESPN) February 18, 2021
Watson certainly is that. Even with a porous offensive line and the loss of DeAndre Hopkins, he led the NFL in passing yardage (4,823), establishing a career-high for touchdown passes (33) and a career-low for interceptions (seven). The only thing stopping Denver from being a flat-out Super Bowl contender with Watson is playing in a division with Patrick Mahomes and the supersonic Chiefs.
Deshaun Watson has found one of the few drawbacks to being young and great at your job
— Mike Golic Jr (@mikegolicjr) February 18, 2021
Still, it appears there’s still much more speculation to come before action. New Texans brass under Nick Caserio has stayed the course, denying Watson is on the block. Sportsbooks must believe his words carry weight, because Houston still sits second at +300 odds.
As much as Denver makes sense, there’s better value right now with Miami (+350) and the Jets (+600) — the destination Watson reportedly favored. Looking for a monster long shot? The Giants (+5000) fit the bill as Denver, Miami and the Jets: a promising young QB to send back in a deal.
Having worked in and around sports since 1997, Eric is truly a knowledgable expert. The two-time journalism grad specializes in all things NBA and NFL. From TSN.ca to CTV’s Olympic Broadcast Consortium, Eric’s work has appeared in local and national publications alike.