This is not a column arguing the Bears are going to trade for Deshaun Watson and completely upend the narrative surrounding this organization. Most oddsmakers have the Bears fourth or fifth in the pecking order to acquire his services. This is a column arguing the Bears should make sure the Houston Texans know they are serious.
No one knows where Watson wants to play next season. There are rumors he wants Miami but those rumors circulated before the entire league started texting Nick Caserio at the gym. Listen, Miami is nice. The weather is gorgeous. The taxes are non-existent. The women don’t wear a ton of clothes near the beach. The team has a good coach and good talent. But they also have a disinterested fan base. The building is a mausoleum. If Watson wins in Miami, it’ll be met with a series of tepid hollers and lethargic golf claps.
If he wins in Chicago, we’ll be eating at one of the many Deshaun’s Dogs chains in the Chicagoland area for the rest of our lives. (“The RPO Dog has relish, pickles and onions!”) The Bears should assume they can convince Watson to want Chicago and act accordingly.
So what does “serious” mean?
Start with three first-round picks. Think of it this way. In order for the Bears to move up significantly in the 2020 NFL Draft for a quarterback, it’ll cost them next year’s first rounder anyway. So why wouldn’t you toss in an additional first to get a proven commodity at the most important position in all of sports?
If those picks are not enough, and they likely wouldn’t be, two options:
- Three second-round picks. Yes, this means the Bears would essentially be hoping to find starters in the draft for the net three years but remember, at the end of those three years, Watson would still only be 29. Their window to win with him would be another six seasons, at least. And since they would have salary cap space to make up for the roster deficiencies, and a GM who is terrific in the middle rounds, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t be winning until that point as well.
- Players on their rookie deals. Darnell Mooney, Cole Kmet and Jaylon Johnson all profile to be long-term starters in the league. David Montgomery is coming off his breakout season. Roquan Smith has superstar potential. Each would have appeal to a rebuilding Texans team because of their manageable contracts and significant upside. (Roquan will be expensive very soon.) None should be considered untouchable.
- Pick a veteran, any veteran. Houston isn’t going to want Khalil Mack or Eddie Jackson. But if they do, well, alright!
All these elements still might not be enough. But they all must be on the table. If Houston is going to trade Deshaun Watson they must understand Chicago’s seriousness. The Bears have spent a half century plus trying to find the kind of young quarterback who can carry a franchise on his back. One is available now. Not pursuing him would be football malpractice.