There’s a pot of gold waiting for Deshaun Watson at the end of the rainbow. With prized lineman Laremy Tunsil taken care of (he recently reset the tackle market with his landmark, $22-million AAV), signing Watson long-term is officially next up on Bill O’Brien’s to-do list.
Watson, who had his fifth-year team option picked up by Houston earlier this offseason, is a lock to exceed Russell Wilson’s $35-million annual salary, the current high-water mark among QBs, and seems like a similarly safe bet to top Jared Goff’s $110 million in guaranteed coin. Per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle, Watson’s next contract will likely fall in the range of $40-42 million annually. That’s an eye-popping amount but, after dumping ace receiver DeAndre Hopkins in controversial fashion (the Texans’ lackluster return for Nuk was universally panned), Houston should have the dough to front it.
The quarterback position has become a game of competitive leapfrog in the NFL with each subsequent deal upping the ante for future signal-callers. If it comes to fruition, Watson’s deal would have wide-reaching ramifications with Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes among those affected. Having Watson strike it rich would give Dak even more ammunition in his ongoing negotiations with Dallas. The last we heard, per Mike Fisher and Josh Clark of 105.3 The Fan, the Cowboys were offering Prescott $35 million annually with a reported $106 million guaranteed. If Watson breaks the $40 million-a-year threshold, it’s hard to envision Dak settling for less.
Some have suggested quarterback-needy New England as a trade fit for Watson should the Texans fall short of meeting his considerable demands (Hopkins’ departure predictably didn’t sit well with the two-time Pro Bowler), but obviously Houston will do all it can to keep that from happening. Coming off a Super Bowl MVP in February, Mahomes figures to watch these events unfold with keen interest, seeing how the quarterback market shakes out with Watson and Prescott before setting his price. The three subjects remain in a holding pattern for now, engaged in high-stakes chicken with their respective clubs. The coronavirus shutdown has stalled the process but Watson, Prescott and Mahomes are all getting paid—and quite handsomely—sooner or later.