Let's discuss if this is the right time to pay Deshaun Watson
The Texans are reportedly working on an extension for quarterback Deshaun Watson, one that is surely to make him one of the highest paid players in the league.
Watson is clearly the face of the franchise (well, when Bill O'Brien isn't forcing himself out front) and a player the Texans should lock up. However, is now the right time?
Watson is scheduled to make $4.4 million in 2020, less than kicker Ka'imi Fairbairn. He would make just over $17 million in the final year of his deal in 2021, and the Texans could conceivably franchise him for another year. While Watson deserves to get paid, perhaps it should happen after the 2020 season, not before.
Houston is almost in the same boat as Dallas, which is trying to lock up Dak Prescott long-term. Prescott has been tagged for just over $31 million in 2020. The Cowboys Stephen Jones is aware of what paying big money means.
"There's all sorts of analytics out there that show if your quarterback takes up too big a percentage of your salary cap, that it decreases your chances to win," Jones said.
While there are some that would dispute that, the concern is real. Tie up too much of your cap, and there is not enough money to place talent around your quarterback. You could argue the Cowboys have better pieces around Prescott than the Texans do Watson.
In both cases, the players deserve their money. But with Watson, waiting might make more sense. The big concern is how much the salary cap world will change in the Ronaverse. If you lock up Watson now at 2019 money, the possibilities of it taking up a massive amount of cap space increase. While many speculate the cap will still go up due to TV dollars even if massive revenue is lost due to lack of fans, hoping that happens is foolish. TV dollars are based on the potential for ad sales. Is it a guarantee that money will be there in the future?
Pre-Rona, yes, you lock up Watson at whatever the cost. But with the future uncertain for both sports and the economy, would waiting a year really be a bad idea? Sure, Watson could increase his value, but by how much? A few million a year? If he does that, you don't mind paying. It means you probably made a Super Bowl, although that seems unlikely considering the limitations of his coaching staff.
But if the cap drops drastically, it would deflate the market. Watson would still get paid big money, but at a more realistic rate. The Texans would have no problem shedding cap in 2021 to give him a big raise then. Theoretically, they could do that now, certainly, and still be able to field a competitive team. There are always ways to stay under the cap, even if it plummets dramatically in 2021. But with an uncertain future for both sports and the economy, is this really the time?
Waiting a year might be the prudent move. Let's see if the Texans actually do it.
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