It’s the kind of punctured weather balloon that inevitably appears this time of year:

Star player rumored to be coveted by illogically matched team.

This week, with NFL free agency beginning Wednesday, it’s a vague report from of oblique interest by the Eagles in Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (a player they could have drafted themselves had they not been so crazy about Carson Wentz. More on that later.).

Vague. Oblique. Illogical.

And, so, titillating.


This is the sort of discussion point that makes every sport’s hot stove season worth having, but this discussion in particular is as ill-conceived as it is unlikely. And it is extremely unlikely.

For one thing, the cost would be prohibitive. It would take this year’s No. 6 overall pick as well as the possible two first-round picks they might have in 2022, assuming former Eagles quarterback Wentz plays often enough to turn the Colts’ second-round pick into a first-rounder. You’d have Watson, and he would be joining a team whose foundation is strong for the moment — but, populated by 30-somethings Fletcher Cox, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, and Brandon Graham, that foundation will crumble within two years. And the Eagles have forfeited the draft picks necessary to rebuild that foundation.


The report contradicts the overwhelming feeling that the Eagles plan to develop Jalen Hurts, the second-round pick last year who showed flashes of excellence when he took over as starter in the last four games of 2020. ESPN reported last week that owner Jeffrey Lurie instructed general manager Howie Roseman to make Hurts as comfortable as possible.

» READ MORE: Has Jeffrey Lurie’s edict on Jalen Hurts eliminated the possibility of the Eagles taking a QB in the first round?

There’s no reason to doubt what the latest report said. Well-connected reporters hear things like this all the time, and, frankly, it makes March much more fun.

That said, this smells more like Lurie and Roseman floating a hollow promise to a fan base with which, somehow, they have never been less popular.


Could it work? It seems impossible.

The biggest issue:

Watson has a no-trade clause. There’s no evidence that Watson, who is disgruntled in Houston for a host of reasons, would be sufficiently gruntled to waive his unusual no-trade clause and come to the Eagles. Many of the issues that appear to be upsetting Watson with the Texans — mismanagement of talent, poor asset acquisition, dim prospects for immediate success, ownership ignoring players’ input — infest the organization 1,300 miles northeast.

Watson reportedly wants to land with the New York Jets or the Miami Dolphins, in that order, mainly because he adores new Jets coach Robert Saleh, whom he wanted to be his coach in Houston. What do those teams have to offer?

Arguably, each has a better quarterback to include in the trade: Sam Darnold in New York, Tua Tagovailoa in Miami.

Inarguably, both the Jets and the Dolphins have better draft picks to trade. The Jets have Nos. 3, 23, and 34 overall (the second pick of the second round) in April’s draft, as well as two first-rounders in 2022. The Dolphins have Nos. 3, 18, and 36 (the fourth pick of the second round), as well as a first-rounder in 2022.

Besides Hurts, the Eagles have the No. 6 overall pick this season, their own first-rounder in 2022, and, if Wentz plays 75% of the Colts’ snaps (70% if they make the playoffs), the Colts’ first-rounder — which likely won’t be a very good first-rounder.

Finally ...

Look: Watson is a superior quarterback. His passer rating is 104.5 over four seasons, and he ranked second at 112.4 last season, despite inferior offensive lines and diminished weaponry; the trade last year of Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins alone justifies Watson’s aggravation.

He would immediately make the Eagles relevant. He would be a solid value, having signed a four-year, $160 million extension last year. He turns 26 in September.

Watson is vastly superior to Hurts. But it’s a better idea to build a team around Hurts and hope he develops into some iteration of Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, or Russell Wilson than to sell off the future, again, for a quarterback who has shown himself to be both intractable and disloyal.

If he were somehow willing to come to Philly — a dysfunctional organization with lots of problems — he would bankrupt the assets a team that needs to rebuild. The Eagles need their draft picks. Every one of them.

Here’s why.

One of the main, and ignored, reasons the Eagles haven’t won much since 2017 is that it cost so many draft assets to move up to pick Carson Wentz.

One of those assets: the No. 12 overall pick in the 2017 draft.

That pick: Deshaun Watson.