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Should Steelers Trade T.J. Watt in Deal for Deshaun Watson?

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Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson has had enough, and has finally requested a trade from the organization, according to multiple reports Thursday.

Watson’s growing discontent has been common knowledge for some time, and now that he officially wants out, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has assembled a number of hypothetical trade proposals, including one that would land the star quarterback in Pittsburgh.

Barnwell’s blockbuster proposal would send Watson and a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Steelers in exchange for the 24th-overall pick in April’s draft, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 third-round pick, fullback Derek Watt and outside linebacker T.J. Watt.

The Steelers could fit Watson under the salary cap, but that would involve parting ways with Ben Roethlisberger. Such a move would free up $19 million in cap space, according to Barnwell.

This proposed trade would also reunite all three Watt brothers in Houston, a scenario Steelers fans have fawned about since Pittsburgh signed Derek last offseason.

Arguably the best defensive player in the NFL, T.J. is fresh off his second straight First-Team All-Pro season. He led the league with 15 sacks and 23 tackles-for-loss.

That kind of production does not come cheap, and the Steelers will have to pay a premium on Watt’s impeding extension, which is expected to be one of the richest for a defensive player in league history.

If Pittsburgh wants acquire Watson, they would likely have to make the tough decision to send Watt in the deal to satisfy the Texans’ demand and their own financial future.

Still, Steelers fans should keep perspective, as a trade for Watson is likely a pipe dream. Of the 17 hypothetical trade packages proposed by Barnwell ranked from least to most likely, Pittsburgh’s clocks in at pessimistic 15th.

In addition, the 25-year-old has a no-trade clause, so he will have final approval on any deal the Texans reach. The Steelers may have the weapons offensively, but they need to make serious strides along the offensive line with regards to performance and youth. Watson has played behind struggling offensive line in the past in Houston, and more than likely does not want to deal with that again.

Even though the Texans limped to a 4-12 record, Watson had the best season of his career in 2020. The three-time Pro Bowler completed 70.2% of his passes for 4,823 yards with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions, all career-bests. He also rushed for 444 yards and three scores.

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