Deshaun Watson is signed through next season but has a fifth-year team option for 2021. The Texans will almost certainly pick up the option, but that does not necessarily mean they will hang onto the former Clemson star. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots might not be able to afford a star quarterback heading into next season, but their salary-cap situation should be a lot more manageable in 2021. At that point, Bill Belichick will likely have the flexibility needed to pursue a top free agent. If the coach and GM decides to go that route, Deshaun Watson will be a name to watch.

Odds are offered for just about everything these days, and, truthfully, they don’t mean a whole lot. However, you might find it interesting that gambling website BetOnline.ag lists Watson as the favorite to be the starting QB for the Patriots in Week 1 of the 2021 season.

Watson is signed through next season but has a fifth-year team option for 2021. The Texans will almost certainly pick up the option, but that does not necessarily mean they will hang onto the former Clemson star.

There has been talk about Watson landing a massive contract extension this offseason, but he may be waiting for Patrick Mahomes to reset the market. It’s also unclear if the Houston Texans are willing to pay Watson more than $35 million per year, especially after they traded DeAndre Hopkins this offseason. Though, you could argue that trading Hopkins will make it easier for Houston to afford Watson.

The Patriots are likely going to head into 2020 with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham and newly acquired veteran Brian Hoyer. Those two have the best chance of competing for the starting job, especially with New England having more than $20 million in dead salary-cap money this year. If Stidham is unable to lock down the starting job by next offseason, Belichick will explore other options.

Texans head coach Bill O’Brien comes from the Belichick coaching tree, but the two might not currently be on the best terms. That could make any potential blockbuster trade between Houston and New England more complicated. The most likely scenario is that Watson will sign an extension with the Texans, but the thought of him being the next great Patriots quarterback is an exciting one for NFL fans.

This article first appeared on Larry Brown Sports and was syndicated with permission.

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