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Falcons reportedly emerging as ‘sleeper team’ to acquire Houston QB Deshaun Watson

The team is a surprise link to the controversial QB.

Tennessee Titans v Houston Texans Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons have emerged as a ‘sleeper team’ to acquire Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, per a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter recounts the connection Watson has to the franchise as a former ballboy and says that he’s “developed a relationship” with Blank’s family.

In addition, ESPN’s Diana Russini says that Watson seems interested in playing for the Falcons.

“All options are open ... but it’s not going to be easy,” Schefter was told by a source with the Falcons about the potential for a Watson move. Another source said it’d be a “longshot.”

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport says that the Falcons will meet with Watson Wednesday, with a decision possible to come that same day. He said the Falcons making the move would be “extremely complicated” and that it would, of course, necesitate trading franchise quarterback Matt Ryan.

The news comes on the heels of Watson being linked to division rivals the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers, as well as the AFC Cleveland Browns.

The cost for a Watson trade is reportedly three first-round picks plus assets, per multiple reports. Watson has a no-trade clause on his four-year, $156 million deal and can effectively choose where he ultimately plays.

Watson’s trade market has sped up in recent days after he learned he wouldn’t face criminal charges stemming from 22 accusations of inappropriate behavior and sexual assault alleged by massage therapists.

While interest doesn’t mean the team is actively preparing a package to send to Houston, the report alone shows that the Falcons are at least open to the idea of acquiring Watson and replacing Ryan as the team’s franchise face. It would support news from The Athletic that Ryan’s reported contract restructure wasn’t complete yet. Schefter confirmed that Ryan’s contract restructure had not been officially agreed to and that nothing had been turned into the league office as of yet, as did 92.9 The Game’s Mike Conti.

Watson’s not out of the woods yet, with 22 civil suits against him still pending and an investigation by the NFL still ongoing that could result in suspension. For an organization that has prided itself on ethics and character, it’d be a staggering abandonment of principle for the Falcons organization to levy its future to acquire someone with this much baggage and ongoing legal concerns.

The move feels very much not like what Blank has championed in his ownership of the Falcons, and it’d be a backbreaking move for a portion of the fan base who couldn’t support the Falcons if it meant supporting a player with 22 accusations of sexual harassment and assault on its roster.

Though, as CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora notes, some rival general managers aren’t buying Atlanta as a legitimate contender and that this could be part of a process to drive the price up on an eventual Watson trade.

This could all be smoke, or it could be the sign of the organization plotting a franchise-altering move that will no doubt be the most shocking thing to come out of Falconland since 28-3. We’ll be monitoring, of course, and hoping and praying that level heads come forth and that Watson is elsewhere in 2022. Being a long-shot contender is already a step too far for this franchise to make. Being a piece in a process to drive up the trade value is manageable.