The quarterback market reached a milestone when Patrick Mahomes signed his 10-year contract this offseason, clearing the way for his draft classmate to get a new deal done.
They're not there yet, but Texans coach and general manager Bill O'Brien is confident the franchise will strike a long-term contract with Deshaun Watson before long.
"We're working hard," O'Brien said Friday of contract talks with Watson's representation, via the Houston Chronicle's Aaron Wilson. "We feel so strongly about him in this offense, in this organization. We want him here for a long time."
Anyone looking for justification needn't look further than Wild Card Weekend, in which Watson's heroics powered a frantic Texans comeback and eventual postseason victory over the upstart Bills. If one needs additional proof, Watson's two Pro Bowl appearances and 21-10 record as a starter in the last two seasons can't hurt, either.
The best way to value Watson is to look at the state of the Texans before 2017, when Houston owned a high-quality defense but was constantly held back by a lack of acceptable quarterback play. Rememeber that lucrative albatross of a contract Houston handed to Brock Osweiler, which became such a disaster that the Texans sent the Browns a second-round pick just so they'd take him off their hands? How about the starts made by Brian Hoyer, Ryan Mallett, T.J. Yates and Brandon Weeden all in the same 2015 season? Did you truly believe in Tom Savage?
None of that matters because of the presence of Watson, whom the Texans will wisely make every effort to retain. They'll have one more offseason to get it done before Watson enters the fifth and final year of his rookie deal, at which point the Texans could find themselves in the same position as the Cowboys did this spring, ultimately franchise tagging Dak Prescott just to keep him with the team while continuing attempts to close the gap on a long-term deal.
As head coach and general manager, O'Brien knows earlier is better for this deal for both long-term team security and for one less task to complete while handling both important roles. The wait for the Mahomes deal is now in the past. Logically, it should only be a matter of time before Watson puts pen to paper on contract No. 2.