Joe Banner identifies Eagles as ‘likeliest landing spot’ for Deshaun Watson

Joe Banner is no longer Jeffrey Lurie’s right-hand man, but few understand the Eagles owner better than the organization’s former president and Banner thinks Philadelphia is the “likeliest landing spot” for the beleaguered but ultra-talented quarterback Deshaun Watson.

A childhood friend of Lurie, Banner spent nearly two decades as one of Lurie’s top advisors with the Eagles before leaving to become CEO of the Cleveland Browns.

These days, Banner had dipped his toes into the media side of things with a football think tank he founded with former Jets executive Mike Tannenbaum:

Banner took an interesting look behind the curtain in regards to Lurie’s decision-making and the Eagles’ perceived interest in Watson, who still faces potential criminal charges stemming from alleged sexual misconduct as well as 22 civil lawsuits from women accusing the QB star of disturbing behavior during massage sessions.

First Banner has gone back on the Eagles’ controversial decision to sign Michael Vick in 2009 after the former No. 1 overall pick served time in federal prison for animal cruelty.

“In 2009, we signed Michael Vick after he was incarcerated for 21 months and suspended by the league,” Banner wrote. “Before doing so, we had two criteria that had to occur for us to be ready to make a deal with Vick: one, he had to have paid for crimes, which he did while serving time in federal prison and being suspended by the league. Second, we had to be sure that he would not commit future crimes or reoffend.

“We signed Vick because after talking to him and many other people, we were confident he had paid for his crimes, and we were confident he would not be involved in any further inappropriate behavior. .”

The former executive noted that there was a lot more uncertainty with Watson.

“Deshaun Watson’s situation is different than Vick’s,” Banner noted. “Watson suffered no real retribution for what he did. Despite missing the entire 2021 season, he was paid $10.54 million by the Texans.

Banner also addressed the public relations hurdles any team negotiating for Watson would be faced with.

“To be clear, the charges against Watson are repugnant,” he explained. “From an ethical and team culture-based perspective, I would have serious reservations about acquiring Watson if I were leading a team today. If he is guilty, no NFL team shouldn’t engage in discussions to acquire him. And without confidence in resolving criminal charges, I wouldn’t trade for him. But because I lack information, I don’t know how I would proceed.

Banner placed four caveats on a potential run to Watson.

– The prison must be off the table.

-The team needs to be convinced he didn’t do what they’re accused of or they need a reason to make sure it won’t happen again.

-The team must be able to cope with the financial implications.

-The team must be able to deal with the public relations implications of its acquisition.

Banner called a number of teams “unlikely suitors” for Watson: Indianapolis, Washington, the New York Giants, Miami (the team Watson would like to play for but has publicly dropped out of the mix), Tampa Bay, Denver, Minnesota, Cleveland and an unlikely 180 by Houston.

That left two “real possibilities” in Carolina and the Eagles, with Banner calling his former team the “likeliest landing spot for Watson” because of his draft capital and Lurie’s history.

“The Eagles are clearly a team that recognizes that if you want to win big you need to have a great quarterback,” Banner wrote. “They selected Donovan McNabb with the second pick in 1999. They signed Michael Vick. They traded and later re-signed Carson Wentz. They even took Jalen Hurts with a second-round pick. Their team building philosophy matches. There are teams that will do whatever it takes to get a good QB, and there are others that won’t acquiesce if the QB costs too much. The Eagles fall into the first category. They will be aggressive.

As for Watson’s earlier refusal to waive his no-trade clause for Philadelphia, Banner addressed that as well.

“By the time Watson realizes how few options he’s actually given the circumstances, he’ll think Philly is more desirable than he thought a year ago,” Banner explained.

The Eagles have already done their due diligence on Watson’s situation, sending their own investigator to South Texas and speaking with Watson’s attorney, Rusty Hardin, according to multiple NFL sources.

Hardin, meanwhile, said any possible criminal charges would be decided in early April at a recent court hearing.

Howie Roseman and Nick Sirianni have publicly backed their current QB Jalen Hurts on several occasions, but unlike the Dolphins, the Eagles brass have never outright ruled out a trade for Watson and many in the league believe it’s helpful .

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for’s EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports chat host Jody McDonald every morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on “Birds 365,” which streams live on and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show ‘Extending the Play’ on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at [email protected] or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is’s Eagle Maven editor and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at or and follow him on Twitter: @kracze.

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