DAT’s DAVIS: Saints Split Their Fanbase With Recent Deshaun Watson News. Is Watson The Right Decision?

The Saints fanbase has been thrown into a state of division once again over the recent news that came from Ian Rapoport & Tom Pelissero of ESPN. Reports say that the New Orleans Saints are not only in the mix for Texans QB Deshaun Watson, but they have also made trade offers for him as well. Watson currently has a no-trade clause, and will want to meet with interested teams before waiving his clause anywhere.

“I’m told the Saints have done extensive background checks on Watson and have the approval of ownership to try to bring him to #NOLA .” Saints writer Jeff Duncan tweeted on Sunday.

From the standpoint of the Saints organization, I can understand why they are in the mix for Watson. They still view themselves as a team that is in win-now mode. With a top 10 defense returning for 2022, and signs that point to resources being poured into strengthening their offense. It’s highly unlikely that the Saints bet on a young, inexperienced quarterback; which means, the prospect of drafting one, or rolling with former Notre Dame QB Ian Book is all but certainly out of the question.

With that said, I can’t say they’ve handled this quarterback situation poorly in the grand scheme of things. They’ve kept an open-mind, including keeping the doors open for Jameis Winston to possibly return. “Jameis is certainly an option for us, and we hope we’re an option for Jameis,” Saints GM Mickey Loomis said. Saints have also been linked to other potential quarterbacks like Jimmy Garoppolo, Teddy Bridgewater, and Mitchell Trubisky as a wild card option. Getting this done right, rather than getting it done quick, is something many Saints fans, myself included, both can & should applaud. The question that needs to be answered is, is Deshaun Watson the right choice?

Let’s look at his last season as an active starting quarterback in the NFL. 382 out of 544 pass attempts for 4,832 yards, 33 passing touchdowns to only 7 interceptions, 112.4 passer rating, 70.22% completion percentage, 444 rushing yards off 90 rush attempts (4.9 yards per carry), only 4 fumbles, and 3 rushing touchdowns. These base stats alone puts Watson at the top end of the league in 2020, which is even more impressive when you consider the fact that he was sacked 49 times in 2020. Of his 382 completed passes, 221 of them went for 1st downs. 31 of his 90 rush attempts went for 1st downs, which is a 34.44% 1st-down percentage off runs. All of these are considered to be career highs for Watson, but his overall body of work doesn’t much reflect this, especially when it comes to postseason performance.

Deshaun Watson has only appeared in three total playoff games, two of which came in his 2019 season & only one in 2018. Only one playoff win to show for it all, with said win coming against the Buffalo Bills in a 22-19 victory where he went 20 out of 25 for 247 passing yards, 1 touchdown, 55 rushing yards, and even sacked 7 times. So, while I can’t say Watson is really “elite” in the postseason, it’s still better when you consider the other options out there other than possibly Jimmy Garoppolo. Then there’s to consider what kind of situation Watson would be stepping into, which is overall much better than Houston.

As it currently stands, the NFC is as wide open as it’s ever going to be. Given the recent departure of Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, & the Dallas Cowboys making some rather questionable moves on offense with trading wide receiver Amari Cooper to the Cleveland Browns in favor of extending wide receiver Michael Gallup, the only real contenders in the NFC that can be seen as ready to win now are the Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, & the Green Bay Packers. Watson would be inheriting a top tier defense in the New Orleans Saints, wide receiver Michael Thomas, a top five offensive line when healthy, and a proven coaching staff with a front office that will do everything in its power to put him in the best position to succeed.

On the flip side, what would the Saints be giving up in order to get Deshaun Watson? The contract of Watson isn’t something of a problem for the team, as they will be able to fit him underneath the cap, but what about draft picks? Potential players? The Texans were last reported to have wanted three first round picks & more in return for him. They would be taking quite the risk for a player that hasn’t played in a full season. Some out there will argue that it worked out well for the Bucs with Brady, and the Rams with Stafford.

In the sense of the Rams, I can understand the point as the Los Angeles Rams haven’t had a first round pick in close to five years. They gambled multiple picks in acquiring Matthew Stafford, and it paid off. With the Tampa Bay Bucs, multiple offensive playmakers came solely because they wanted to play with Tom Brady: Leonard Fournette, Rob Gronkowski, & Antonio Brown being the biggest, and who made the biggest contributions to their postseason push to win the 2020 Super Bowl. I can’t see many free agents wanting to come & play for Deshaun Watson. Furthermore, asking all Saints fans to just overlook the fact that Deshaun Watson had 22 women come out with accusations against him is much easier said than done. While Watson is innocent in the eyes of the law, many people have their own strong opinions and judgments about him.

“Saints trading for Deshaun Watson would be a slap to the face of every sexual assault survivor in their fanbase. Obviously and disappointingly that’s a price they’re willing to pay.” John Sigler of TheSaintsWire tweeted on Sunday.

Some have also come out with a point of saying that it would be a locker room distraction. There is a possibility of that happening, but I do not agree on this particular point. Do I believe that all of the Saints players will be happy to have Deshaun Watson? No, but the culture and leadership currently in the Saints locker room (Dennis Allen, Cam Jordan, Demario Davis, & Malcolm Jenkins) would keep everyone in line, and focused on the ultimate goal of bringing a Lombardi trophy back to the city of New Orleans.

As for me, I am standing by my choice of the Saints bringing back Jameis Winston, as I believe he is just as talented as Deshaun Watson, will be cheaper coming off an ACL/MCL injury, will have more picks and players to work with & build around Winston, and understands the Saints offensive system which is a big advantage to have if you want to get around having your quarterback go through a learning curve. One thing can be said for certain, and that’s that Saints fans everywhere better strap in tight. It’s going to be a wild ride.