Panthers are quietly keeping an eye on Deshaun Watson

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The Texans want to trade quarterback Deshaun Watson. For now, however, they haven’t gotten an offer that they’re willing to accept.

The number of teams interested in Watson remains unclear. The Eagles definitely are. The Dolphins aren’t believed to be. The Broncos seem to be willing to ride with Drew Lock and Teddy Bridgewater for 2021, content to explore their options for 2022 when 2022 comes.

Per a league source, the Panthers quietly are keeping an eye on Watson. Yes, they traded for Sam Darnold and picked up his 2022 option. Owner David Tepper nevertheless is committed to finding a long-term franchise quarterback. Watson has the skill to become that guy, and Tepper — who made his money buying low and selling high — could be inclined to make a move if Watson’s contract can be secured at a reasonable amount.

The 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints (two of which were filed by women who haven’t yet sued Watson) continue to provide a major potential impediment to his short- and long-term prospects. More than anything else, the expected presentation of evidence to a grand jury is giving teams pause.

For the Texans, the question becomes whether they’ll be willing to simply do the best deal they can and be done with it. Although G.M. Nick Caserio is, as one source recently explained it, concerned about making a trade that will look in hindsight like he’d been fleeced, there aren’t many clear alternatives to removing Watson, who’s currently the fourth-stringer on the depth chart, and his $45 million in salary over the next two years. Someone higher in the Houston organization could insist on unloading Watson’s contract for whatever Caserio can get.

By all appearances, the Texans are ready to move on from Watson. That attitude necessarily makes it much harder to get a huge return, especially with the pending legal problems.

Here’s another team that likely won’t get involved but given its coach’s current exasperation with his starting quarterback should at least make a phone call: the Vikings. Kirk Cousins plus conditional picks in 2022 and 2023 based on Watson’s availability over the next two seasons could make sense for both teams. It would give Minnesota a path out of a maze in which they’re otherwise stuck, and it would solve Houston’s QB4 problem, too.

This possibility raises plenty of obvious and important questions for both teams, given Houston’s apparent plan to proceed with Tyrod Taylor now and Davis Mills later and Minnesota’s intent to eventually turn things over to Kellen Mond. That said, it could be the best move for both teams given the longstanding friction between the Texans and Watson and the recent tension between Mike Zimmer and Cousins, based on his refusal to get vaccinated.

34 responses to “Panthers are quietly keeping an eye on Deshaun Watson

  1. I’ve been an Eagles fan for almost 40 years and if they trade for Watson, as much as it would pain my heart, I couldn’t in good conscience remain a fan of the team. Also, I wouldn’t blame anyone for feeling the same way about their favorite team if a trade were to happen.

  2. The Steelers. Watch out for the Steelers. Transitioning from a franchise QB with no clear replacement next year.

  3. “22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints”
    21 and 9 would be OK but 22 and 10 may be too many.

  4. Kirk Cousins does nothing for Houston. The Texans are building on a youth movement and don’t need an old/expensive QB that couldn’t win in Washington, nor in Minnesota.

  5. As talented a QB as he is, he’s not going to the Vikings. The owner just cut a fresh first round draft pick over assault to a woman. There’s no way he could justify bringing in Watson.

  6. A message to every GM in the NFL. Let Watson be someone elses problem.
    More baggage than United Airlines.

  7. I don’t think any team would trade much for Cousins at this point. The Texans and Vikings are pretty much stuck with what they’ve got right now.

  8. cromagarmy76 says:
    August 4, 2021 at 2:52 am
    I’ve been an Eagles fan for almost 40 years and if they trade for Watson, as much as it would pain my heart, I couldn’t in good conscience remain a fan of the team.


    Wow so what did you do when Michael Vick was on the team?

  9. People forget how beloved Watson is in Carolina. If they offer Darnold and two No. 1s, I could see this happening… There are only a few franchises that can trade for Watson without massive outrage to follow… Philly and Carolina are at the top of that list.

  10. Carolina should roll with Darnold this year. If he’s not the answer, they will be picking high enough to draft a new QB next year while using only 1 draft pick. There are other holes on the roster that you won’t be able to fill if you give away all of your draft capital for one troubled player.

  11. Watson is not going to the Panthers,Mike. They are going to roll with Sam Darnold this season. If Darnold isn’t the answer,Carolina will take a QB early in the 2022 NFL Draft. If Watson is found guilty on the charges of sexual misconduct,he will be playing the lead role for the real version of The Longest Yard in jail or in prison.

  12. Until Watson’s case is settled, he has to be untouchable to other teams. No way can any team market to women and have an “accused sexual assaulter” on the field.

  13. Enough with all the holier than thou comments. If you had him as your QB you would be beyond thrilled especially if you got him on the cheap

  14. “Kirk Cousins does nothing for Houston.”

    He doesn’t do all that much for the Vikings either but he’s still collecting a ton of cash from them. He’s the richest player who was never better than “just okay” in history.

  15. If Tepper pulls this trigger then this will go down as his Danny Snyder moment and the Panthers will be *doomed.

    *A level below never having back to back winning seasons.

  16. Maybe they want to see where all the masseuses who don’t talk are located. Great way to undermine your team by rewarding sexual predators.

    The league needs to have a zero tolerance policy. Ban him for life.

  17. Tepper didn’t get his name on the business school at CMU by surrounding himself with problems. There is no chance he signs off Watson representing his image for the next decade.

  18. I’m in Charlotte, and I can tell you that Tepper’s plan is to hold the taxpayers hostage for a new stadium in the not-too-distant future. Charlotte won’t give it to him, but South Carolina state legislators will. But all of that depends on having a clean operation – nobody who stands out as a moral problem. Plus, look at the money they gave Darnold. They’re rolling with Sam, and we’ll all see whether that’s a wise choice or not.

  19. it takes more than throwing a good pass to make a quarterback.. Watson ain’t one…

  20. sosayweall says:
    August 4, 2021 at 11:33 am
    EVERY TEAM except for KC and maybe the LA Chargers are keeping an eye on Watson.
    I’m sure I am not the only one who can think of several teams who have absolutely no interest in Watson

  21. If I were the Panthers and had just traded for Darnold, I would most definitely be keeping my options open. Darnold is going to Darnold, as in ” he really Darnold’d that one”.

  22. There is a financial consideration to make concerning signing Watson. The uncertainty of his playing status will cause fans to withhold season ticket purchases. Single game tickets are equally affected. Ironically the hesitation will be both because of both pro and anti Watson fan attitudes. After a financially draining 2020 season, most teams will be as hesitant as the fans.

  23. Watson still can’t make the game winning plays from the pocket, and he’s been in the league long enough. Darnold is a much better prospect, and he hasn’t gotten anywhere close to his potential. Darnold reminds me of Steve Young when he was in Tampa Bay. The Bucs were a terrible organization, just like the Jets. Once Young left for San Francisco his career started taking off. Nobody judges Young based on what he did in Tampa Bay. He’s in the HOF based on the 49ers. I can’t judge Darnold based on the Jets. That would be a foolish thing to do.

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