The 2017 NFL Draft (and the process by which the Bears landed on Mitchell Trubisky without even interviewing Deshaun Watson) sticks in the craw of every fan I’ve come across. And because of how things went down back then, there is a not wholly unfounded belief that it could negatively impact a possible pursuit of Watson this offseason (remember, Watson has a no-trade clause, so he can effectively decide where he’ll end up to some extent).
But in the opinion of ESPN’s Adam Schefter, concerns about Watson pulling that card appear to be overblown:
I asked @AdamSchefter in many different ways if Watson would rule out the #Bears for any reason including what happened in 2017…and Schefty repeatedly said no.
Gives the Bears a chance in the sweepstakes.
— Silvy (@WaddleandSilvy) January 28, 2021
You’ll want to give the Waddle and Silvy Show’s interview with Schefter a full listen when you get a chance. But in the meantime, I’d like to highlight Marc Silverman’s line of questioning, as well as Schefter’s answers.
Silverman asked if the Bears have a realistic shot of being in on the Watson sweepstakes. He followed up asking about how open would Watson be to a trade sending him to Chicago. And he also asked if Watson would willingly come to a team whose GM didn’t afford him the same opportunities he gave to Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes during the pre-draft process. These are the important questions that needed to be asked heading into this Watson pursuit.
And from where I stand, Schefter answered in a satisfactory manner:
⇒ Deshaun Watson does have to want to come to your city. But even more important than him wanting to come to your city is the fact that he doesn’t want to go back to his city. So, Chicago is not Houston. Any other team – Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami, Carolina, New Orleans – none of them are Houston. Advantage to any of those cities. … I don’t think Deshaun Watson is going to be overly selective about where he goes, so long as it’s not back to Houston.
⇒ Why would he come to Chicago? Let’s get past little personal slights or overlooks? Why would he come to Chicago? Tradition laden franchise. Great city. Great fans. Strong defense. People who are committed to him. I can give you an argument on why he could come to every city, even Chicago. I think there are very few places that should be and could be and ruled be ruled out.
⇒ There are probably a handful of places that would not interest him for various reasons. Business reasons, personal reasons, him watching how the league operates. But I don’t have any reason to believe that Chicago is one of those franchises. And so, why would the Bears not be in? Why would he not be interested? Again, I don’t think that he’s going to say, ‘oh boy they overlooked me, they didn’t talk to me when I was drafted, and I am eliminating a world-class city’ because that. I just don’t see that. Again, I’m not telling you he’s more likely to end up in Chicago than someone else. But I don’t cross the Bears off the list. I don’t eliminate them at all.
The clarity from Schefter is important. Watson potentially holding a grudge could have played a major role in how the Bears went about their business this offseason. But as we’ve previously discussed, Schefter’s ESPN teammate Louis Riddick made it a point to say that this isn’t just Ryan Pace’s show in Chicago. And from a Bears perspective, that’s a good thing. Because while Watson and Pace didn’t get that 1-on-1 time, Nagy did when he was part of the Chiefs’ pre-draft process in 2017. And that previously existing relationship could play into the Bears’ favor. How many other possible suitors can say the same?
In the end, we’re ridiculously early in this process. So much so, the Texans already put out their best bluff in saying they have no interest in trading Watson. Ultimately, that might not be their call. And even though Schefter’s reporting doesn’t offer up a favorite in the Watson sweepstakes, that the Bears are in it and won’t be eliminated because of what happened in 2017 is an important first step.