The Carolina Panthers reportedly are "quietly are keeping an eye" on a potential trade for Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported Wednesday the Panthers are interested if Watson can be acquired for a "reasonable amount," even though his availability for the 2021 NFL season and beyond remains uncertain because of 22 civil lawsuits and 10 criminal complaints filed against him by women accusing him of sexual assault or misconduct.
Watson has denied the allegations.
He reported to Texans training camp in order to avoid a $50,000 daily fine, having not been placed on the Commissioner's Exempt List despite the ongoing investigation. He also hasn't backed off a trade request he placed in January before the allegations became public, though, according to Aaron Reiss of The Athletic.
The difficulty for Houston's front office is receiving fair value for one of the NFL's best quarterbacks given his uncertain status and desire for a trade.
While the Texans are "ready to move on" from Watson, general manager Nick Caserio is "concerned about making a trade that will look in hindsight like he'd been fleeced," per Florio.
Watson has completed 67.8 percent of his throws for 14,539 yards with 104 touchdowns and 36 interceptions across 54 appearances since Houston selected him in the first round of the 2017 draft. He's added 1,677 rushing yards and 17 scores on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Panthers already went through a quarterback change during the offseason, acquiring Sam Darnold in a trade with the New York Jets and subsequently dealing Teddy Bridgewater, their 2020 starter, to the Denver Broncos.
Carolina also picked up the $18.9 million fifth-year option in Darnold's rookie contract for 2022, which could create some financial problems if they also acquire Watson ($40.4 million cap hit in 2022).
There was no indication whether teams are interested in trading for Watson before the lawsuits and investigations are completed. Florio reported "the expected presentation of evidence to a grand jury is giving teams pause."
The Panthers are scheduled to kick off the regular season Sept. 12 when they host the Jets, and they visit the Texans in Week 3.