It started as a “bold prediction” that morphed into a vague sort of report that provided ESPN a week’s worth of content. The possibility of the transaction still lingers. Ultimately, however, would the Panthers include running back Christian McCaffrey in a trade for quarterback Deshaun Watson?
The Panthers just signed McCaffrey to a long-term deal last year, giving him a $21.5 million signing bonus. Trading him now would trigger a $17.2 million cap charge. With Watson making only $10.54 million in 2021, McCaffrey would actually chew up $6.66 million more cap space than Watson next season.
The Panthers would take another $10 million cap charge for trading Teddy Bridgewater before June 2, based on the $15 million signing bonus he received last year on a three-year deal. That’s $27.2 million in dead money tied to trading for Watson, if McCaffrey would indeed be part of the deal.
The other question becomes whether the Texans would want McCaffrey. New G.M. Nick Caserio comes from a place where running backs were jammed into a revolving door, with no workhorse at the position. Caserio may not be inclined to put all running back eggs in McCaffrey’s basket.
So it continues to seem unlikely that McCaffrey will be part of any trade for Watson. But the possibility of McCaffrey being shipped to Houston hasn’t gone away — and likely won’t until Watson is, or isn’t, traded to the Panthers.