Days after trading Russell Wilson to the Broncos, the Seahawks may have been aiming to swing for the fences to find another star quarterback to replace him. But it takes two to tango and Deshaun Watson doesn’t share the same interest in coming to the Pacific Northwest.
According to a report by John McClain of the Houston Chronicle, Watson rejected the opportunity to meet Seattle, writing that he may not have had an interest in playing for them due to location. Instead, the Texans’ star caller reportedly met Carolina and New Orleans on Tuesday night in Houston and those two teams appear to be the first to acquire him.
Another separate report from ESPN’s Dianna Russini simply said the Seahawks won’t meet Watson “for now.”
Despite ongoing legal issues stemming from 22 civil lawsuits filed against him, Watson was not charged last Friday, opening the doors for interested teams to make a trade offer for him. The Seahawks were hoping to throw their hat in the ring with three first-round picks and four second-round picks over the next two years and nearly $50 million in cap space before the start of free agency.
Based on his meetings with the Panthers and Saints, however, Watson seems to prefer joining a team down south, which should come as no surprise considering he was born and raised in Georgia before playing collegiate at Clemson.
Assuming the Seahawks are indeed irrelevant to Watson, the organization will have to turn its attention to a market with declining options. Two other veteran callers – Falcons star Matt Ryan and Vikings veteran Kirk Cousins – have recently been given restructured or extended contracts and will not be available for trade. Free agents Mitch Trubisky and Teddy Bridgewater also signed with the Steelers and Dolphins respectively on Monday, taking two free agent options off the table.
If Seattle wants to bring in an experienced starter through the free agent lane to face Drew Lock, former top picks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota could be the best options left. Winston started seven games for New Orleans before tearing his ACL and undergoing reconstructive knee surgery, while Mariota has been a backup in Las Vegas behind Derek Carr each of the past two seasons after starting his career at Tennessee.
Other alternatives include former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who threw passes to receiver Tyler Lockett on Monday and was previously linked to the team in 2017 and 2018, as well as veterans Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Tyrod Taylor and Jacoby Brissett.
As for the trade market, Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew and Ravens quarterback Tyler Huntley are high-potential replacements who could be starters at least in the short term. The former would be particularly intriguing to fans given his previous success in neighboring Washington State in coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid attack. But trading for either player may require giving up more draft capital than the Seahawks are comfortable surrendering to acquire.
Seattle also holds the No. 9 overall pick in the April draft thanks to Wilson’s trade to Denver as well as two second-round picks at Nos. 40 and 41 overall. Whether or not another established veteran is signed or traded in the coming days, the organization will likely use one of those three picks to bring in a rookie flagger to prep and compete for game time immediately.
Either way, the Seahawks find themselves in uncharted territory without Wilson at quarterback for the first time in a decade. With fewer and fewer options to choose from at the most important position in professional sports, the situation is not ideal for a franchise that hoped to avoid a total reconstruction in 2022.