Deshaun Watson could take the Vikings from good to great

It won't be cheap, but it's worth acquiring a 25-year-old franchise quarterback.
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The Minnesota Vikings are a franchise that is stuck in neutral. Saddled with a regime that's in the same mid-life crisis that leads people to impulse buy a BMW, the Vikings are a team scrambling for relevance.

We can talk ourselves into something different as the ailing defense is slated to get Danielle Hunter, Anthony Barr and Michael Pierce back next season. With an offense that ranked fourth in total yardage, it's conceivable that the Vikings can find their way back into the playoffs next year.

This is good, but for a team that has been good for a majority of its existence, it's not enough. The Vikings talk like a team that expects to win a Super Bowl, but outside of signing Kirk Cousins to a massive deal, they haven't acted like it.

So what would put the Vikings over the top? Deshaun Watson.

Watson is in the midst of the NFL's latest player-vs-owner struggle as he wants to be traded from the Houston Texans. As 25-year-old franchise quarterbacks typically don't become available, a majority of the NFL is expected to call Houston to see if they can pull off the blockbuster to acquire Watson.

The problem is, he's not going to come cheap. ESPN's Bill Barnwell suggested that the Vikings would need to give up three first-round selections including the 14th overall pick in the 2021 draft and a third-round pick to make it happen. The Vikings would also ship out Cousins to New England as part of a three-team deal.

This is all unlikely, but the Vikings would be fooling themselves if they don't call the Texans to see what a deal would look like.

Watson and Cousins have put up similar stats over the past couple of seasons. With $31 million tied up in Cousins next season, the likely scenario would be for the Vikings to shrug their shoulders and forge ahead with a guy that threw for 4,265 yards and 35 touchdowns last season.

This wouldn't be bad, but acquiring Watson could be the piece that takes the Vikings from a good team to a great team. 

Last season, Watson threw for a league-high 4,823 yards, 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions. This was done with Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb, Jordan Akins and 11 games of Will Fuller as his top targets. In addition, Watson was backed up behind the corpse of David Johnson and an offensive line that ranked 23rd in Pro Football Focus' final rankings for 2020.

Oh, and Watson was running for his life most of the time, mixing in 444 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Putting Watson in the middle of a Vikings offense that features Dalvin Cook, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson could send Minnesota's offense into the stratosphere. This could also help the disconnect for a team that finished 11th in points scored.

All of this is something you would plug into a Madden franchise, turn off your PlayStation 4 (because nobody has a PS5 yet), and go to bed smiling. But the reality of giving up three first-round picks could be hard for Rick Spielman to swallow.

Taking a look at the Vikings' current situation, this is a deal they still could be able to pull off. With the returnees on defense and the existing pieces on offense, the Vikings should be a better team next season. 

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Even the holes that exist on the roster (guard, safety, third wide receiver) have been traditionally filled with late-round picks since Mike Zimmer arrived in 2014. With an added $15 million in salary-cap space the trade would create, the Vikings could also fill those needs in free agency.

Another added bonus is that by acquiring Watson, the Vikings don't run the risk of having him land within the division. The Chicago Bears will be in the mix to land Watson and although that aggression didn't work out with a trade for Jay Cutler, Watson is a better quarterback that could haunt the Vikings if they don't make this move.

With Spielman and Zimmer possibly fighting for their jobs next season, their top task should be turning a team that could contend for the seventh seed into one that can contend for a Super Bowl run. Watson would do just that.

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