According to a new report, Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has two AFC East teams in mind as his most preferred trade destinations, with the New York Jets edging the Miami Dolphins as the team he'd most interested in playing for if he gets moved ahead of the 2021 season as rumored.
Citing a report from Miami Herald columnist Armando Salguero, 247Sports wrote on Saturday that Watson prefers the Jets over the Dolphins because of the fact that they recently hired Robert Saleh to replace Adam Gase as their new head coach. According to Salguero, the 25-year-old quarterback had previously pushed for the Texans to interview the former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator for Houston's own coaching vacancy. He did, however, add that while the Dolphins are Watson's "second choice" at the moment, he would still welcome a move to Miami if he gets traded there.
In addition to the two AFC East clubs, Watson is also reportedly considering the Carolina Panthers as another potential landing spot, as a trade to Carolina would represent a homecoming of sorts for the former Clemson Tigers star. Rumors have suggested that the Panthers might be looking for someone to compete with or replace Teddy Bridgewater, who struggled toward the end of the 2020 campaign — his first in Carolina after signing a three-year contract with the organization.
The new report came shortly after CBS Sports' Josh Edwards predicted in his most updated mock draft that the Jets might try to acquire Watson for a package centered on this year's No. 2 overall pick and, in a separate deal, send their incumbent starting quarterback, Sam Darnold, to the New Orleans Saints. Following his announcement as the Jets' new coach, Saleh remarked that it "would not be fair" for him to make an immediate decision on whether Darnold should return to New York for a fourth season after largely failing to live up to expectations as the No. 3 selection in the 2018 draft.
As recalled by 247Sports, Watson's issues with the Texans apparently started when they promised him that he will be involved in their head coaching search, only for them to allegedly ignore his suggestions. Aside from Saleh, Watson was reportedly high on Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who also was not interviewed by Houston.
Watson had another productive campaign in 2020, finishing the year with 33 touchdown passes, seven interceptions, and 4,823 passing yards — good for a QB rating of 112.4 and a third Pro Bowl selection in four seasons, per Pro Football Reference. Despite his strong play, the Texans only finished third in the AFC South with a 4-12 win-loss record.