If Woody Johnson craved a 38-year-old Brett Favre the way he did when Chad Pennington was jettisoned before the 2008 season, you better believe he would want to make a splash with Deshaun Watson now that Johnson is back.
Watson is a top-five quarterback who is only 25 years old, and he is instant box office for whenever the day mercifully arrives that MetLife Stadium can be packed again with those long-suffering Jets fans. And suffering Jets fans as well.
Jets GM Joe Douglas has the draft capital and the allure of New York Bleeping City to seduce Watson now that word is out he wants out of Houston.
It’s a two-pronged sales attack for Douglas and the Jets:
Make the Texans an offer they can’t refuse.
Sell Watson on why the Jets are the most desirable landing spot for the prime years of his career.
The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since the 2010 season. The franchise has been a veritable burial ground for franchise quarterbacks. No need for Douglas to reference any of that.
But he can remind Watson that there is no better place to win than New York City, even if the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center is in Florham Park. N.J. And it is one lovely facility, by the way.
Watson isn’t one to shy away from the expectations that he would be the Jets’ Savior.
Watson’s championship days at Clemson tell us in no uncertain terms that he loves the bright lights and the big stage, the way Michael Jordan once did. The Jets were one of the teams that didn’t listen to Clemson coach Dabo Swinney when he likened Watson to MJ, drafting Jamal Adams instead because then-GM Mike Maccagnan apparently thought Christian Hackenberg would be Jordan. But Douglas can take a cue from Mark McGwire — he’s not here to talk about the past.
He’ll talk about Robert Saleh instead. Watson would love Saleh; all he has to do is ask Richard Sherman, if he hasn’t already. If anyone is an all-gas, no-brake kinda guy, it is Deshaun Watson.
And Saleh has an important branch of the Kyle Shanahan tree in offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur. Watson would flourish in his offense.
Douglas has $63,475,814 in cap space, according to overthecap.com, and he will be a player in the free-agent market for a No. 1 receiver (Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin) to team with Denzel Mims and Jamison Crowder. He’ll find him Playmakers and Protectors.
Watson’s blindside would be protected by Man Mountain Mekhi Becton, who might remind Watson of Laremy Tunsil, his left tackle in Houston.
Douglas can tout the culture he has begun building — no IK Enemkpali, so no reason for Watson to fear someone breaking his jaw in the locker room.
If Joe Namath could appear in pantyhose commercials once upon a time, the sky would be the limit for Watson in the endorsement field.
Douglas should call Namath and ask him to pitch the team and the city to Watson.
And now for the other portion of the Texans two-step:
Douglas must be willing to fork over at a minimum three first-round draft picks: the second-overall pick and the 23rd pick in 2021, and the Jets’ pick in 2022, which almost assuredly will be a more valued pick than the one they received from the Seahawks in the Adams deal. Douglas can sweeten the pot with autographed copies of Namath’s most recent book: “All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters.”
New Texans GM Nick Caserio could then draft Zach Wilson, Justin Fields or Trey Lance with that second-overall pick.
Douglas can recoup some draft capital — no less than a second-round pick — by trading Sam Darnold to one of the many quarterback-desperate teams: the Bears, Lions, Panthers, Colts, Washington Football Team, Steelers, Saints, maybe the Rams, maybe even the Jon Gruden Raiders, but not the Patriots, thank you very much.
“He’s an unbelievable talent,” Saleh said of Darnold on the “Huddle and Flow” podcast.
A win-win statement from Saleh. Darnold would obviously benefit from the coaching change, but he might also benefit from a change of scenery. Saleh talking him up in the event the Jets plan on trading him is smart business. It’s smart business to express belief in him and build up his confidence at the same time as well.
Any trade would leave Douglas with a second- and two third-rounders in 2021, a 2022 first-rounder and a second and a third, plus whatever he can fetch for Darnold.
Douglas might have to fend off the Dolphins should they decide to upgrade over Tua Tagovailoa, and Watson would like the fact there are no state income taxes in Florida.
Back in 1997, the Jets traded first-, second-, third- and fourth-round picks to the Patriots for what turned out to be three years of Bill Parcells on the sidelines.
Watson, 26 in September, would only give the Jets their best player since Curtis Martin, their best quarterback since Broadway Joe.
If push comes to shove, and he is forced to surrender that fourth first-rounder — likely in the 20s — Douglas should swallow hard and do it, while insisting on a second- or third-rounder as part of the deal. Deshaun Watson makes everyone around him better and changes the perception of the organization. And he would be an invaluable recruiting tool for Saleh, because players across the league will want to play with him.
For the beleaguered Jets, it would be the dawn of a new day. Or Deshaun of a new day. It’s Elementary, My Dear Douglas.