DAN BICKLEY

Cardinals should seize opportunity to make run at Deshaun Watson

Jan 28, 2021, 5:04 PM | Updated: Jan 29, 2021, 7:36 am
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during the first half of an NFL football game agai...
Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
(AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

We are not a city of champions. We are a collection of masochists. Our major professional sports franchises are a tapestry of tumult yet again.

Heads up, Phoenix. It can always get worse.

We could always be Houston. And all things considered, it wouldn’t hurt to pick up the phone and see if their NFL team would like to swap quarterbacks.

Consider:

Just over 54 weeks ago, the Texans led the Chiefs 24-0 in a playoff game. There were 10 minutes to go in the second quarter. The football world was stunned.

It had been quite a journey for Houstonians, who live in a highly-populated city without a recognizable skyline or any distinguishable features. Their sports scene was even worse.

Their beloved Oilers once blew a 32-point lead in a playoff game and left for Tennessee. After five decades without a title, the Astros cheated their way to the top, becoming the scourge of baseball. The Rockets have been a longstanding ebacle (no ‘D’), their only championships coming after Michael Jordan’s unexpected retirement, where James Harden just left in a contentious divorce.

But the Texans have topped them all, becoming the NFL franchise to avoid at all costs, one that now wears a scarlet letter.

Since January 2019, the Texans have lost Tyrann Mathieu to the Chiefs; traded Jadeveon Clowney to Seattle; traded DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona for a washed-up David Johnson after that fateful playoff game in January 2020 where the Chiefs scored 51 of the game’s final 58 points; and we’ve learned that Deshaun Watson has formally requested a trade.

Fans in Houston are trapped in a metaphorical Hell, a sporting Hades, and if you’ve been there during the summer, the climate is nearly the same. But there are many points of interest moving forward:

Are Watson’s demands ushering in an era of player empowerment? A movement that has swept the NBA, where professional basketball players feign disappointment, disrupt team harmony and do whatever necessary to get traded to a city of their choosing.

LeBron James started the trend. Kevin Durant took it to another level, joining a 73-win team he couldn’t beat in the playoffs. Eric Bledsoe tweeted his unhappiness from a hair salon. Anthony Davis bailed on New Orleans. Harden couldn’t get along with Chris Paul or Russell Westbrook, forcing his way to Brooklyn.

Watch out, NFL. Watson and Lions star Matthew Stafford have recently requested trades. The Packers’ Aaron Rodgers might be mulling the same. It’s a dangerous time for a league that has always protected the stability of smaller markets.

In Arizona, the bigger issue is whether the Cardinals should seize the opportunity and make a run at Watson. The answer is yes, definitely.

Watson is top-shelf elite, from courage to passion, from pocket quarterback to dual-threat, from arm talent to leadership. He’s 25, and as close to a sure thing as you’ll find at the position. Kyler Murray is on a much different journey and may one day end up in the same place.

But it’s a no-brainer.

If you can convince Watson to approve a trade to Arizona, signing off on our climate, a user-friendly organization and a reunion with Hopkins, the Cardinals should most certainly offer a fair price in return: a Texas schoolboy legend in Murray and either Isaiah Simmons; or a first-round draft pick in 2022.

That might get it done, and certainly worth a phone call.

After all, it’s the Texans.

Dan Bickley

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