The Raider Ramble

Raiders Mantra Could Bring Deshaun Watson to Las Vegas

As free agency begins to wind down, the Las Vegas Raiders have addressed the backup quarterback position when they signed Marcus Mariota. The team also tip-toed around the thought of acquiring six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady, but he opted to join the Buccaneers instead. Derek Carr is the undisputed starting quarterback in Las Vegas, but the front office’s mantra may soon say otherwise if Deshaun Watson becomes available.

Due Diligence

Raiders general manager Mike Mayock has emphasize the concept of due diligence since he joined the organization’s front office last offseason.

The team’s direction in both the 2019 and 2020 off seasons has been clear: If the team can improve at any position, they will. With the release of linebacker Tahir Whitehead and the additions of Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski, Raiders brass practiced what they have preached. The odds of a young and promising NFL quarterback becoming available on the trade market may test the team’s boundaries of said approach.

Houston Fallout

Last week, the Texans traded premier wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins for less than his market value.

Later that same day, the Vikings and the Bills completed a trade that sent higher compensation in exchange for lesser talent than Hopkins.

Presumably, there are factors that contributed to a rash trade of arguably the best player on the Texans team. As those contributing factors remain a mystery, it should be understood that every action comes with consequences. Less than a week after the trade of his star receiver, Houston quarterback Deshaun Watson is feeling a certain way.

They may be song lyrics, but there isn’t one signal-caller on earth that would be thrilled over losing the elite receiver they’ve thrown to their entire career. The relationship between Texans head coach/general manager Bill O’ Brien and Watson is questionable. That uncertainty could lead to a hasty trade that would instantly upgrade the Raiders quarterback position.

Related: Raiders Draft Guide: Post-Free Agency Edition

The Upgrade

When you look at the 2019 Raiders, the major problem for the offense, as general manager Mike Mayock has stated, was scoring. In fact, the Silver and Black had the 22th ranked offense in the red zone.

That raises an eyebrow considering the fact that the team was ranked ninth in passing yardage last season. The air attack stalled out more often than not in the red zone as opposing defenses focused on neutralizing Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow. Plays such as the one below, are unacceptable on fourth and goal.

I’m not here to analyze the play above, I’m here to state that Carr has a documented reluctance to run the ball in the red zone (four attempts in 2019). His unwillingness to take off in scoring range affords defenders the ability to focus on coverage and not commit to the thought of him turning into a rusher. That statement cannot be said about Watson, who would fix the disconnect for the Raiders in the scoring efficiency department immediately.

Watson amassed six rushing touchdowns in the red zone on 14 rushing attempts, which translates into a 42% scoring rate as a rusher. He is a legitimate dual threat behind center, as he also accounted for 18 passing touchdowns inside their opponents 20-yard, compared to Carr’s 15 in 2019.

The Bottom Line

The Houston Texans have a situation on their hands that will not fix itself easily. Trading one of the best receivers in football after reaching the playoffs in 2019 is a mind boggling decision, even more so for the lack of value they received in return. Ultimately, the outcome may lead to another disgruntled player O’ Brien ships out of Houston based on “more than football” circumstances. For the Raiders, Watson is entering his fourth season in the league and is widely considered as top 10 quarterback. He has always been a player that does whatever it takes to lead his team to victory.

Mayock has always known Watson brings to the table.

Jon Gruden also had lofty praise for the former Clemson Tiger after the Houston Texans defeated the Raiders during the regular season in 2019.

Bleacher Report Gridiron

A shaky relationship in Houston, may lead to new beginnings for Watson. The Raiders have the draft capital and assets to trade for and then offer him a contract extension as the new face of the franchise. For those of you that say it is unfathomable, just ask Cardinals about the likelihood of acquiring Hopkins at a bargain deal.

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