Matt Miller's Scouting Notebook: Does Deshaun Watson Make Miami a Contender?

The NFL trade deadline is November 2 and we might not see a ton of action—we rarely do—but there has been more buzz in NFL circles as of late that Houston Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson could be moved.

Watson, a 26-year-old franchise quarterback, requested a trade last off-season before being accused by 22 women of sexual misconduct during personal massages. Watson has not been suspended by the Texans or the NFL, but remains in a sort of limbo while he awaits civil litigation from the accusers.

The Miami Dolphins have been linked to Watson since he first made his trade demands known. I was told during the pre-draft months that the Dolphins were his preferred destination.

And why wouldn’t they be? Coming off a 10-6 record, the Dolphins seemed to have it all with head coach Brian Flores and general manager Chris Grier a dynamic duo that had acquired a plethora of early draft choices and had a roster on the rise.

But the 2021 season hasn’t been all roses in Miami. Second-year quarterback Tua Tagovailoa looks small, injury-prone, and not that impressive. An offensive line that could have been anchored by Laremy Tunsil—he was traded to the Houston Texans—looks lost. And the defense, the team’s specialty in 2020, can’t get to the quarterback.

Watson may ultimately find his way to South Beach—whether he would be allowed by the NFL to play during the ‘21 season remains to be seen—but would it matter? Does Watson alone make this 1-6 team a contender this year? Because it does seem like without Watson, both Flores and Grier could start to feel their seats get very warm.

Does Watson make Miami a contender?

The simple answer is yes, he does. Watson, after all, made a very bad Texans’ roster competitive. A good quarterback covers up a lot of problems on both sides of the ball, but Watson is more than just “good”. He’s great. Arguably a top three quarterback in the NFL last season—and he did that on a very bad team.

In Miami, Watson would have the best wide receiver corps he’s played with. There’s no Deandre Hopkins here, but the group of Jaylen Waddle, DeVante Parker, Will Fuller, Preston Williams and tight end Mike Gesicki is an all-star team compared to what Watson had in Houston last year. And he threw for 4,800 yards and 33 touchdowns.

The defense in Miami is a problem, but they’re also supporting a quarterback and offense that consistently leaves them in poor field position situations and can’t score—a point differential of -78 after six weeks.

Watson can’t rush the quarterback or cover Stefon Diggs, but he can put points on the board that will make the job of the defense much more manageable.

Can Miami get it done?

I won’t pretend to have impeccable sources on this story, but from what I’ve heard talking to scouts, coaches and agents is that the Texans are the closest they’ve been to dealing Watson since his demand earlier this year. Miami—or any team interested in Watson—must make sure the NFL wouldn’t immediately suspend him or place him on the commissioner’s exempt list if they tried to activate him to play.

But, if the NFL clears a path for Watson to play, Miami has the capital to get a trade done. While they don’t own their own 2022 first-rounder (they traded with the Eagles to land Jaylen Waddle), the Dolphins do have the San Francisco 49ers’ 2022 first-rounder as well as the team’s 2023 first-rounder and their own original first that year.

That quickly becomes three first-rounders, which was the starting point of the rumored Texans’ compensation demands.

Whether Watson gets traded or not is one of the most interesting NFL storylines over the next 10 days. But it’s not the only story we’re watching nor is it the only trade likely to go down.

In this week’s Scouting Notebook, we’ll give you a list of players we think could be on the move; as well as take a look at NFL draft stock risers, fallers and sleepers before giving our picks of the week.

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