We have not seen many elite quarterback seasons that have coexisted with 4-12 records, but that was what happened to Deshaun Watson in 2020. Watson led the NFL with 4,823 passing yards, including 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions (24:2 over the final 11 games, by the way), and he did so with Brandin Cooks and Will Fuller as his only teammates to top 450 receiving yards.
In the last decade, there have been only 24 quarterback seasons to have thrown at least 30 touchdowns passes with fewer than 10 interceptions. Of those 24 seasons, 22 resulted in a record of 10-6 or better. In 2018, Matt Ryan went 7-9 while throwing 35 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Then you see Watson, who went 4-12.
In fact, Ryan and Watson are the only two quarterbacks to ever post a losing record while accomplishing this mark (we tend to forget that 33 TD/7 INT seasons didn’t happen prior to 2004 — now it’s a regular occurrence, with four QBs going at least 30+, >10 this season). On Thursday morning, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio posted a story claiming that “we’ve already heard (rumors) from multiple different people, that Watson has quietly broached with teammates the possibility of requesting a trade.”
Reading that line, does it sound to you like Watson has requested a trade? It doesn’t sound that way to me, but Florio did get his story trending as the top one for Thursday morning, so he accomplished what he had probably set out to accomplish. Given how often PFT’s stories are mere speculation twisted as facts, I’ll speculate that a veteran NFL writer could connect the dots that the Houston Texans are a bad team with a great quarterback and then stretch something he heard to make it sound like a story, knowing that few will ever read more than a passing tweet about it and assume that Watson demanded a trade today.
If they read the story, how could they make sense of paragraphs like this one:
It’s too early to think about where he’d potentially be traded. It’s not too early to make a list of teams that would possibly clamor to get him. The Patriots, Steelers, Colts, Raiders, Broncos, Washington, Eagles, Bears, Lions, Saints, Panthers, Falcons, Buccaneers (if Tom Brady is one and done), and 49ers are the most obvious.
Imagine writing these sentences back-to-back:
“It’s too early to think about where he’d potentially be traded. It’s not too early to make a list of teams that would possibly clamor to get him.”
“It’s too early to think about where he might be traded, except that actually it is not.”
Not even the commenters on the article seem to have read the article, though I imagine that’s not something that has ever concerned Florio.
The Texans hired a new general manager this week and they’ll have a new head coach in short order. I would not assume that the team’s quarterback, leader and best player would approach anyone of significance about a trade until they have actually completed filling all of their job openings. Rather than speculate about where Watson would be traded, whether or not it would impact the LA Rams, and if he could wind up in the NFC West division, I’ll let the actual story — “Maybe: Watson makes off-handed remarks in locker room last season” — ruminate on its own.