I’ve been asking myself “what does a Deshaun Watson trade even look like?” on the hour every hour since news of his trade request surfaced earlier in the week. Because, try as I might, even my most outlandish Bears-centric pitches left me wondering if that was enough. And even after the Matthew Stafford-Jared Goff trade became the first domino to tall and ultimately set the market, I still couldn’t come to something that felt like it was enough to move the needle on a Watson trade.
But maybe this tweet from long-time Texans reporter John McClain provides an inkling as to what the asking price will be:
The Rams-Lions trade will have nothing to do with a Watson trade if the Texans do it. They'll want 2 ones, 2 twos and 2 young defensive starters, at the least. Watson, 25, under contract, great QB, team leader, beloved by fans, pillar of the community. Start with the Jets.
— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 31, 2021
If 2 first-round picks, 2 second-rounders, and 2 young defensive starters is Houston’s asking price, then this is something Chicago Bears should be able to meet. And should meet. Because, if there’s one thing Chicago’s football team does have right now, it’s young defensive starters other teams covet.
We could start with a player early on his rookie deal, such as cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Perhaps defensive lineman Bilal Nichols, who is entering the final year of his first contract, is a player of interest. On the higher end of the spectrum, I suppose safety Eddie Jackson or cornerback Kyle Fuller could fit. Both are making big money, but Jackson (27) and Fuller (28) are still on the younger side of the ledger. And finally, I reckon we can entertain the idea of Roquan Smith as being an enticing piece. Smith, 23, is coming off a second-team All-Pro season. One in which he arguably out-played first-team All-Pros Bobby Wagner (more solo tackles and tackles-for-loss), Darius Leonard (more tackles-for-loss), and Fred Warner (more total tackles, sacks, solo tackles, and tackles-for-loss).
Losing multiple ace defensive starters would sting, especially since the Bears wouldn’t have the immediate draft capital to replace them. For instance, trading either (both?) cornerbacks would leave Kindle Vildor and Duke Shelley as starting corners. Dealing Eddie Jackson would leave the Bears needing to re-tool their entire safeties unit because Tashaun Gipson, Deon Bush, and DeAndre Houston-Carson are all free-agents-to-be. Moving Smith in a deal would leave Josh Woods or Joel Iyiegbuniwe to team with Danny Trevathan. There’s real risk in trading from that defense. But because an elite quarterback can cover up so much by virtue of his own excellent play, this is the kind of deal that would be worth the squeeze for a quarterback-starved franchise.
In short, the Bears could totally meet that asking price. Sure, the Texans could start with the Jets. They have the second overall pick and another first-rounder via Seattle that came by way of the Jamal Adams trade. But if the asking price starts where McClain says, the Bears are at a really good starting point.
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