John Schneider has a clear path to getting Deshaun Watson to Seattle – if only he has the will and the wile to take it.
Last week, Bears GM Ryan Pace said he had a plan for finding a new quarterback: “Everything is on the table in regard to the quarterback situation. That includes free agency, trade, the draft and a combination of all those. We have a plan in place.”
It’s no surprise that plan reportedly starts with Russell Wilson, whose agent publicly invited the Bears (and the Raiders, Saints and Cowboys) to pursue the quarterback. Wilson reportedly likes the idea of playing for an offensive coach like Chicago’s Matt Nagy (an Andy Reid disciple), and the egomaniacal QB apparently loves the thought of being a savior in the Windy City.
Perfect. Schneider needs to use Chicago as his conduit for getting a Wilson-Watson swap.
Schneider and Pete Carroll reportedly are not considering trading Wilson at this point, but Schneider has been taking calls on his Fresh Prince QB and should be very open to moving his little diva if he can get Watson. Houston GM Nick Caserio apparently has not yet been listening to offers for his properly disgruntled QB, but NFL teams expect him to change his mind as the draft approaches.
If Schneider were smart, he would be working the Watson angle all the way to the draft. Schneider has done business with Caserio before, when Caserio was with the Patriots, so perhaps Seattle’s GM could continue his trend of syphoning Houston players (Watson following Duane Brown and Jadeveon Clowney).
If the Bears were willing to give up, for example, three first-rounders and a 2021 second-rounder (and a couple other picks, likely) for Wilson, Schneider could pass along the three firsts and maybe Jarran Reed to Houston, keeping the second-rounder to help his 2021 draft stock.
(Some ask why the Bears wouldn’t just trade for Watson instead. Like Wilson, he has a no-trade clause. Given the choice of Chicago or Seattle, which team do you think he would approve?)
A pre-June Wilson-for-Watson deal would require Seattle to create $17.5 million in cap space – $7 million for Wilson (net proration) and $10.5 million for Watson’s salary. Trading Reed could provide about $9 million, and Bobby Wagner could free up $6 million on a restructure. Carlos Dunlap was released, adding $14 million already. (UPDATED with Dunlap release after originally suggesting extension.)
That would leave enough for Poona Ford’s RFA tender and a handful of ERFAs (Bryan Mone, Ryan Neal, et al.). The Hawks would need to create more room for a pass rusher, center, corner and running back, which they could do by extending Tyler Lockett, Duane Brown, Jamal Adams, Michael Dickson and/or Quandre Diggs. But they would not be paying more than $2 million or $3 million against the cap to fill most of those starting positions in 2021.
Like we said, it would require some juggling to trade Wilson before June.
The Texans also would be better off trading Watson in June, so perhaps all three teams could agree to that and push the draft pick compensation to 2022. That would return $8.5 million to Seattle’s cap (after Watson’s salary was counted), giving Schneider more flexibility before June. And he could keep Reed, making Chicago pay full freight to Houston.
It is clear — based on all of the reports that continue to emerge — that it’s time for Wilson to go, and Watson is the perfect replacement. The road to Watson goes through Chicago, and Schneider needs to take it.