The two teams most likely to land quarterback Deshaun Watson are the Dolphins and the Panthers. As explained on Sunday, it comes down to whether Watson will waive his no-trade clause for one or both of those teams.
In a tweet that seems like it was very carefully worded, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reports that the Panthers “are not expected to pursue” Watson “at this time,” because Watson “has only waived his no-trade clause for the Dolphins.”
While I won’t doubt the technical accuracy of the notion that Watson has only waived his no-trade clause for the Dolphins, it’s still possible that he’ll waive it for the Panthers, if the deal with the Dolphins doesn’t fully materialize.
Moreover, the Panthers are indeed pursuing Watson. They want him to waive the no-trade clause for Carolina. They want to acquire his services from the Texans. But, for reasons that likely will become apparent if/when a deal is done, they are second in line behind the Dolphins.
Basically, the Dolphins, Texans, and Watson have dibs on getting something accomplished. If it doesn’t happen, the Panthers will get a chance. For now, the Panthers are in the batter’s box. But they remain on deck.
Given the possibility that they won’t get a chance to take a swing at landing Watson, they need to create the impression that they’re not in the hunt. If they’re not in the hunt, they’ll never fail in their effort to get him.