The Miami Dolphins and New York Jets reportedly headline the group of potential suitors for Houston Texans quarterback thanks of their wealth of high draft picks.
ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported Wednesday that the Dolphins and Jets, which both have two first-round selections including one inside the top three, own the inside edge in negotiations.
"If Houston does a deal with one of them, I bet they go after both firsts in this cycle, because that immediately helps them get better in a year they have limited capital," an AFC personnel executive told Fowler. "In future years, you don't know what those picks are going to be."
Other teams that could be in the mix if Watson is made available include the Carolina Panthers, Chicago Bears and Washington Football Team, according to the ESPN report.
The baseline asking price will include a minimum of three first-round picks, at least one other high draft pick and possibly a "star or ascending players," per Fowler.
Although that may seem like a lot on the surface, it's actually a reasonable demand based on the importance of the quarterback position on team success.
Just look at the conference championship games this weekend. The fight for a Super Bowl berth features the three top contenders for the regular-season MVP Award—Aaron Rodgers, Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen—along with perhaps the greatest player in history, Tom Brady.
Watson, who ranked second in passer rating (112.4) during the 2020 season, has proved himself a top-tier quarterback and could change a franchise's fortunes in the blink of an eye.
Along with having the draft capital to make a deal, the Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa) and Jets (Sam Darnold) each have young signal-callers who could be included in any trade. Neither has proved themselves as high-end options yet, but there's still untapped potential in each case.
So the Texans could acquire a boatload of picks, one of which would likely be used on a quarterback in the 2021 draft, and another young QB who could compete for the job. It would basically represent two chances to find a Watson replacement, which makes it clear why Miami and New York are in the best spot.
Washington may be the most intriguing team on the list outside of those AFC East rivals.
The WFT finished second in total defense this season and feature a strong group of young playmakers on offense, led by running back Antonio Gibson and wide receiver Terry McLaurin. Add in a quarterback like Watson, and they could emerge as a true threat in the NFC.
"I think they will be involved in the QB sweepstakes in a big way," an NFC executive told Fowler. "They know they are close."
First and foremost, the Texans should do everything in their power to repair the relationship with Watson. Even a large haul of picks and young players doesn't guarantee they could replace him.
If those efforts fail, however, there will be no shortage of teams calling Houston about a blockbuster trade.