By Pete Baxter
The Philadelphia Eagles have been one of the most talked about potential landing spots for Deshaun Watson since he made his formal request to be traded from the Houston Texans in January. They have joined the Miami Dolphins and Denver Broncos as the most likely possible destinations for the embattled young star.
Of course, since the time of that trade request, Watson’s life and his standing within the NFL has changed dramatically in the wake of 22 civil lawsuits filed against him for coercive and lewd behavior and sexual misconduct. Two of these suits allege sexual assault.
The Eagles moved on from former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz during the offseason. There is belief within the organization that Jalen Hurts could be the quarterback of the future. Even so, the prospect of landing a bona fide superstar quarterback such as Watson (and skip over the Hurts development project) had to be an intriguing one for Eagles brass.
However, these rumors can finally be put to bed, according to esteemed Fox Sports’ NFL insider Jay Glazer. On Thursday night Glazer tweeted that the Eagles are “not in the mix this time” and are officially “out of the Deshaun Watson discussion.”
This should be a huge relief to Eagles fans.
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The Right Call
Passing on Deshaun Watson is absolutely the right decision for the Eagles.
The Eagles are coming off the most dysfunctional season in franchise history. The team’s handling of the quarterback position was a complete disaster. It led to one-time franchise quarterback Carson Wentz being shipped out of town. A Super Bowl winning head coach in Doug Pederson lost his job.
From the ashes of that lost season, rookie head coach Nick Sirianni and second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts have taken the reins of the team through a rebuild. Sirianni has had his growing pains and has a lot to learn as a play caller. While Hurts has shown moments of great play, he has been wildly inconsistent overall. Both of those things should be fully expected this season.
Unlike the raging dumpster fire that was the 2020 season, the 2021 Eagles have a direction and road map to move forward. It will take time and will require patience. Abandoning the Jalen Hurts project just three or four games into the season to acquire a massively talented but even more massively controversial player who may or not ever see the field would be wildly reckless. It would show that the Eagles learned nothing from the mistakes that brought down a Super Bowl team and coach. It would alienate a huge number of fans concerned with the serious accusations Watson is facing. Bringing in Watson could set the franchise back years.
Acquiring Watson would be the ultimate gamble. If he ultimately faces minimal legal and civil consequences for the behavior of which he has been accused, he could in turn face minimal punishment from the league. In this case, the Eagles would have a bona fide franchise quarterback in place by next season. If his guilt becomes obvious and courts agree, he may never play professional football again.
Stay the Course
For a second-year player just seven starts into his career, Jalen Hurts has shown enough to earn a full season as starter for the Eagles. He has had moments of greatness, such as his obliteration of a bad Falcons defense in week one. Hurts has looked lost at other times, including during much of last week’s Monday night matchup in Dallas.
However, questionable coaching decisions and key injuries to both the offensive and defensive lines are far more responsible for the Eagles’ 1-2 start to the season than Hurts’ play. He has had to do his best to be a one-man offensive army. He has led the team in rushing as well as passing for the past two weeks.
The Eagles entered the 2021 season with a gameplan. See what they have in Jalen Hurts and let Nick Sirianni and his inexperienced staff build their program. Another positive for this roster as currently constructed is that the Eagles have a young, talented viable starting quarterback waiting in the wings if needed in recently acquired Gardner Minshew. Minshew is a fan favorite, deceptively athletic, and does not turn the ball over. They have great depth at the position, as former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco is also still in town. If there is one position where the Eagles probably don’t need to tinker at this moment, it is quarterback.
It is imperative they stick to the plan and not muddy the waters like they did in 2020. Bringing in a controversial star quarterback in Deshaun Watson who may not even play would only work to undo the positive steps taken by the franchise during the offseason. It could create the same type of confusion and lack of continuity within the organization that was so cancerous last year.
The Eagles were never going to be contenders this season, and that is ok. Rebuilding a culture takes time. The worst thing this team could do is to make a rash move to speed up a rebuild and ultimately move the franchise in the wrong direction.
Stay the Course.
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