Are the Texans wasting time with Deshaun Watson's rookie contract?

Watson's rookie deal is through 2020

March 13, 2019 - 5:09 pm

© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Could the Houston Texans be wasting valuable time while Deshaun Watson is still under his rookie contract?

If you look at the history of the NFL, teams who commit more significant amounts of their cap space to quarterbacks are typically unsuccessful. In 2018, the top five highest-paid quarterbacks by average salary missed the playoffs. Only 4 (five if you want to count Flacco, but let's not) of the 15 quarterbacks making an average salary of $20 million or more got their team to the playoffs.

Rookie contracts allow for the luxury of spending on other key positions on both sides of the ball.

Recent example? The 2018 Los Angeles Rams were aggressive in free agency with trades for Brandin Cooks, Aqib Talib, and Marcus Peters, with signing Ndominic Suh, and securing Todd Gurley and Cooks by signing extensions. What did those moves mean for the Rams? Their first Super Bowl appearance in 35-years.

In the 2019 off-season, it seems that NFL teams with quarterbacks on rookie deals are taking an aggressive approach to free agency. Example: Cleveland Browns trading for Odell Beckham Jr. and signing Kareem Hunt last month, and the New York Jets signing Le'Veon Bell and CJ Mosley.

That's not to say that teams can't win with high-paid quarterbacks. If it weren't for a questionable call, the New Orleans Saints could have been the NFC team in Super Bowl LIII. I'm sure they view Drew Brees as money well spent, and as I'm sure the Indianapolis Colts and Seattle Seahawks feel the same about their quarterbacks.

In the last 20 years, there has been one team who understands not paying any player 18-20 percent of their salary cap: the New England Patriots. In 2013, Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, was interviewed by Peter King for Sports Illustrated, and spoke on not paying Tom Brady "elite-quarterback money."

"If we were going to have to pay [Tom Brady> elite-quarterback money and have elite-quarterback cap numbers, I just didn't think we would be able to build a team," said Kraft. "We don't want to have a team where we're paying 18 to 20 percent to a player on the cap."

The Texans will have to pay Deshaun Watson in two years, but until then, maybe they should look to be aggressive and take advantage of that rookie contract.