Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors: Panthers 'Locked' in on Deal for Texans QB

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 17, 2021

Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to pass the ball during the second half of an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press

A new suitor could be emerging for disgruntled Houston Texans star Deshaun Watson.

The Athletic's Joseph Person reported Tuesday that "most league insiders believe [Texans general manager Nick] Caserio eventually will deal Watson." One executive also described the Carolina Panthers as "locked" on the three-time Pro Bowler.

On Tuesday, Watson issued a statement in response to a sexual assault allegation made in a civil lawsuit filed against him. He said he hadn't seen the formal complaint but that he has "never treated any woman with anything other than the utmost respect."

Deshaun Watson @deshaunwatson


The Texans said Wednesday they became aware of the matter because of Watson's post and that they "take accusations of this nature that involve anyone within the Houston Texans organization seriously."

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

The #texans statement on Deshaun Watson: https://t.co/jrU9UDyA2b

Before that, one team appeared to take itself out of the running for Watson when ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Tuesday the Chicago Bears agreed to a one-year contract with Andy Dalton.

It's unclear whether the Bears were even making a serious run at Watson, though. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Dalton became the contingency plan when preliminary negotiations about a Russell Wilson trade fell through:

Ian Rapoport @RapSheet

From @GMFB: The #Bears are signing QB Andy Dalton, but only after a clandestine meeting between #Bears GM Ryan Pace and #Seahawks GM John Schneider in Fargo, ND did not result in a trade for Russell Wilson -- despite Chicago's best efforts. https://t.co/HEQlDNHtLS

Caserio and first-year Texans head coach David Culley have both said the team isn't planning to deal Watson, but there's no other public stance an organization can take in this situation. Houston stands to gain very little by admitting it's shopping its best player, who's also signed through 2025.

Sooner or later, Caserio might have no choice but to part ways with the franchise quarterback. The Texans' relationship with Watson may have reached a point of no return.

Person posited the Panthers would likely dangle at least three first-round picks to land the 25-year-old. That package would presumably include the No. 8 overall selection in the 2021 draft.

After signing Teddy Bridgewater to a three-year, $63 million deal last offseason, Carolina isn't in dire need of a starting quarterback. Bridgewater is a solid option, albeit one with a limited ceiling. In his first full season as a starter since 2015, he threw for 3,733 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

Watson would represent an obvious upgrade and immediately turn the Panthers into a playoff contender. Even if general manager Scott Fitterer has to include sweeteners along with the three first-rounders, that's not a bad price to pay for one of the NFL's best signal-callers.