The Chicago Bears had a chance to draft Deshaun Watson.
They didn't, instead trading up in 2017 from the third-overall pick to No. 2 to select Mitchell Trubisky, a quarterback they've since benched once this season before recently re-inserting him into the lineup. Watson, meanwhile, has become a star in Houston, reaching two Pro Bowls and playing in three playoff games, including one in which he pulled off a magic act in leading the Texans to a win.
Watson's Texans play the Bears this week. Because of how the 2017 draft unfolded, Watson was asked if he's ever seen Chicago general manager Ryan Pace's decision as a source of motivation.
Watson didn't take the bait.
"It's no motivation. It's what the organization went with," Watson said. "I have no ties, nothing against the Chicago Bears or the organization. Of course, the media's gonna make stories and like you said, for those fans, they're gonna of course say something about it.
"For me personally, it's no motivation, nothing like that. They did what they did. And just keep pushing forward. They thought that was the best situation for themselves at that time. For me, it's no motivation, I respect and got all the respect for those players and coaches and ownership."
Hindsight is always 20/20, but the Bears might wish hindsight came with a rewind option. Trubisky appears to be nearing the end of his rope in Chicago, which is again in need of a designated franchise quarterback in the years ahead, and to make matters worse, the Bears moved up in a deal with San Francisco that was later revealed to be unnecessary.
Houston, meanwhile, also moved up to take Watson, trading with Cleveland from No. 25 to No. 12 to select the Clemson star two picks after Patrick Mahomes. That's right -- the Bears passed on the future NFL and Super Bowl MVP, too.
Watson was in demand and a team made a move to go get him. It just wasn't Chicago, which made the playoffs in Trubisky's second season but has regressed since then, going 8-8 in 2019 and losing six straight to fall to 5-7 this season.
Watson is happy with how things turned out, even if the GM who drafted him -- Rick Smith -- is no longer in Houston.
"I appreciate Rick," Watson said. "I appreciate his trust in me and moving up and getting the pieces right for me to be able to be here in this organization. I thank him and I respect him for that, his gut feeling and trusting me. I salute to Rick and his family. To this day, he'll forever have my respect for sure."
Pace is still in Chicago. The team he built -- and the quarterback he chose over Watson -- will attempt to defend his decisions by taking down the Texans on Sunday.