Four teams ultimately jockeyed for position to secure the services of Deshaun Watson: Panthers, Saints, Falcons, and Browns. More than four were interested.
The field was cut to four based in large part on teams failing to meet Houston’s threshold trade expectations.
“I would say there was a fair amount of teams, but what we tried to do was bring the teams that had a legitimate interest, and that was based off the compensation that was presented,” Texans G.M. Nick Caserio told reporters on Saturday. “Going back to the earlier questions, I think there was a certain threshold that I had established in order to make it a legitimate discussion, and if we got to that point then we could engage further. I don’t want to get into the exact number, but there was a few more, however many teams than what everybody was reporting towards the end.”
The Colts reportedly inquired, but they had the door slammed in their faces by their division rivals. The real question is which other teams made a trade offer that was deemed too low to secure permission from the Texans to meet with Watson?
That was indeed a genius move by Caserio, the smartest thing the Texans have done in several years. If they had (as I thought they would) allowed Watson to meet with teams and then create a list of those for which he’d waive his no-trade clause, Watson possibly would have decided to waive his no-trade clause for only one team. That would have destroyed Houston’s leverage when the time came to talk trade.
By pre-qualifying teams to trade for Watson by requiring acceptable trade terms to be tendered, the Texans ensured that they would get what they wanted for Watson before letting Watson decide what he wanted.
The fact that a few more teams tried is intriguing, since perhaps one or more were considering swooping in with an offer the Texans would have taken in order to make a last-ditch run at Watson.