Jayson Jenks and Aaron Reiss of The Athletic reported Thursday that Watson is "open to other teams" despite frequent links to the Jets and Miami Dolphins, but the Texans remain unwilling to engage in serious talks with other front offices despite the quarterback's trade request.
The Jets could absorb the $15.9 million cap hit for 2021 without issue, but that number skyrockets to $40.4 million in 2022, which would likely force the front office to either restructure the deal or make some tough roster decisions after the upcoming campaign.
Watson's contract is more bearable for a championship contender who's all-in for next season, but a team like New York doesn't belong in that category following a 2-14 campaign. A trade for Watson would increase expectations but wouldn't make the Jets a Super Bowl threat in 2021.
The Athletic report doesn't mention whether Watson is more focused on the short- or long-term outlook for interested teams—it sounds like he just wants out of Houston in some way.
Whether he'll get that wish is hard to predict because the Texans appear ready to play hardball with one of the NFL's best quarterbacks.
"And, you know, we have zero interest in trading the player," general manager Nick Caserio told reporters in late January. "We have a great plan, a great vision for him and for this team and his role on our team. We look forward to the opportunity to spend more time with him here this spring."
Texans owner Cal McNair echoed that sentiment last week.
"There is a lot of misinformation out there; I'll leave it at that," McNair said. "... Deshaun is our quarterback, he is a Texan, and we expect him to remain a Texan, and we'll leave that."
Watson's contract runs through 2025, so his only recourse to try forcing a move would be an extended holdout that includes sitting out regular-season games if no deal is made.
For now, the stare-down continues while numerous quarterback-needy teams wait to see whether Houston will eventually budge.