Before Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots decided to bring back Cam Newton for one more go-around, they could’ve ended up as a potential suitor for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Considering his trade request after Houston’s 4-12 season, Watson seemed like an ideal superstar quarterback for years to come.
Those plans were swiftly derailed when Watson was named in almost two dozen lawsuits alleging sexual assault and other improper conduct accusations. Whatever value he had went down the tubes for any team with a collective conscience, and he quickly went from one of the most celebrated players in the league to one of the most vilified.
Before these stories broke, New England could’ve been a perfect landing spot considering their desire to retool and Newton’s subpar performance last year. Some connected writers insisted that the Patriots kept tabs on Watson before the 2021 NFL Draft came around.
The Houston Chronicle’s John McClain, who is as plugged in with the Texans as any other beat writer is with their team, is now claiming that the Patriots were one of eight teams who inquired about adding Watson before the draft. Four of those eight ended up selecting a quarterback in the first round.
Considering how the Patriots immediately upgraded their long-term outlook at the quarterback position without incurring the PR nightmare that would come with a Watson addition, New England did well to avoid trading for him.
The Patriots were extremely right to stay away from Deshaun Watson.
Things have only gone from bad to worse for Watson over the last few months. Not only have several dozen women issued claims that Watson behaved inappropriately around them, but 10 accusers have filed police complaints. This is still a pending legal matter, and Watson is innocent until proven guilty, but trading for him now would be a horrible look for the Pats.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that Watson’s asking price is a combination of five starting players or high-end draft picks. All of that for a player who could be facing some serious punitive repercussions from both the NFL and the law would be one of the riskiest, to put it lightly, moves Belichick has ever made.
Instead of throwing all of those assets overboard for Watson, Newton was retained on a cheap deal and promising Alabama gunslinger Mac Jones was selected with the No. 15 overall choice. With Watson’s status for Week 1 in incredible doubt, the Patriots might’ve ended up with an upgrade in the immediate and long-term future.
The Patriots would’ve had to hand Houston most of their premium draft capital, costing themselves a shot at Jones in the process, in order to add one of the more radioactive players in football. The Patriots should be applauded for their restraint, as it has them positioned nicely for the future.