Kiz: The Broncos need a quarterback. Despite the team’s vote of confidence for the tandem of Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater, it’s hard for me to foresee Denver making the playoffs this season with either one of them in charge of the offense. Yes, we dream of Aaron Rodgers, hoping and praying he can indeed force his way out of Green Bay. But what about Deshaun Watson, a supremely talented quarterback whose legal troubles deep in the heart of Texas have been headline news?
O’Halloran: It seems like five years ago, not five months ago, that The Denver Post began suggesting new general manager George Paton trade for Watson. Multiple first-round picks and players apiece was going to be the cost … and it would have been well worth it. Yes, Watson is only 28-25 as a starter, but he doesn’t turn 26 until Sept. 14, has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 104-36 and a career rating of 104.5. Back then, I believed the Broncos’ best course was Watson or Lock. The Broncos pursued Matthew Stafford and are now in a holding pattern as Rodgers and the Packers remain dug in. Much about Watson, though, has changed since late January.
Kiz: When discussing Watson, it’s impossible to separate his immense football talent from his messy legal situation. More than 20 massage therapists have filed lawsuits accusing him of sexual misconduct. That’s serious stuff. But his ability as a quarterback is beyond reproach. With all due respect to distinguished veterans Tom Brady and Rodgers, there’s only one QB in this league with more long-term value in the huddle and that is Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, born three days after Watson in 1995. But I can’t tell you when — or if — Watson will be on the field again.
O’Halloran: And that’s the No. 1 issue — even if Watson escapes serious discipline from the legal system, what will the long arm of the NFL law (Commissioner Roger Goodell) decide? Four years ago, Goodell suspended Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott six games for a domestic incident involving one woman. The number of individuals who have filed lawsuits against Watson, even if those go away or are settled out-of-court, would move Goodell to act in a serious manner. My guess now is Watson isn’t eligible to play in 2021. But if the Broncos ever acquired Watson, they would have more than a puncher’s chance against the Chiefs.
Kiz: When Watson made noise he wanted out of Houston before the first lawsuit was filed against him, I beat the drum loudly for the Broncos to jump in trade negotiations. All things being equal, I would much rather see Watson wearing orange and blue than Rodgers. But all things are now not anywhere near equal. While we all deserve presumed innocence until proven guilty, I don’t see how Paton, aspiring franchise owner Brittany Bowlen or the Broncos organization could justify a trade for Watson until his legal issues are resolved.
O’Halloran: A no-legal-strings-attached Watson would have been a much better option than Rodgers — Deshaun is 12 years (!) younger than Aaron, which means he would have provided quarterback stability for at least a decade. But Watson is off limits. I wouldn’t be surprised if the league office has told teams to stay away for now. And you’re right, this is a decision made at the highest level of an organization and for now, that buck stops with president/CEO Joe Ellis. The cost to acquire the player (significant). The potential suspension for the player (ditto). And the understandable criticism the Broncos would invite by making a deal for the player (ditto). Not worth it right now.
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