Panthers owner David Tepper has not given up on hopes of acquiring former Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson via trade, according to multiple sources who have been in close contact with him, and it remains a priority for the franchise before Tuesday’s trade deadline.
That’s not to say a trade is imminent, however, as the Panthers and Texans have yet to agree on the parameters of a deal and, according to league sources, the talks renewed early last week. have not progressed as both sides hoped. Houston’s asking price for the quarterback, who is being paid by the Texans not to play this season as he faces 22 sexual assault or sexual misconduct lawsuits, remains too high for the Panthers (as well as the Dolphins), although there is an expectation within the industry that could change by Tuesday, which would be Houston’s last chance to offload the player before the 2022 league year begins in March. .
The Texans held off five or six key plays for Watson, including at least three first-round picks. No one has encountered this so far. League sources have said the Panthers are ready to part ways with three high picks and All Pro running back Christian McCaffrey in a package for Watson; The Texans are very high on several of the Panthers’ young defensive stars (still on their rookie contracts and younger and cheaper than McCaffrey), and the parties have yet to find a compromise.
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The Panthers have more proven young talent than the Dolphins, another factor that could lead them, and not Miami, to land Watson. Panthers executive Steven Drummond is very close to Texans chief executive Jack Easterby, the Texans would rather send Watson to the NFC, all other things being equal, and Tepper’s motivation to land Watson shouldn’t be overlooked. He has made it clear throughout his organization for some time that he covets the Texans’ franchise QB, he seeks to expand the Panthers as a regional brand deeper into South Carolina and believes the addition of star players of Clemson could help with this cause.
The decision to acquire former Jets top pick Sam Darnold has already died down – Darnold quickly returned to his slow start and happy turnover and was benched in Week 7 –And Tepper’s frustration with the inability to find stability at the quarterback, let alone high-end production, is high after four straight losses this weekend.
“The only reason he hasn’t got Watson yet is because the price is too high,” said a source with direct knowledge of the situation. “That’s it. He wanted it for a long time. And there’s still plenty of time until Tuesday. His patience is running out.”
Another source familiar with the situation said: “It’s a type of hedge fund. It reads the markets and looks for value. All you heard last week is that the Panthers are out of the question. . Of course they are. He will be back by Tuesday. Nothing is over until the deadline has passed. “
Suffice it to say, NFL circles have a strong expectation that the Panthers will be among those who speak to the Dolphins until the deadline. Given Watson’s legal issues, the complexity of such a transaction, as well as Watson’s uncertain status as a player this season and beyond, many general managers have long assumed that Watson will not be dealt with until 2022. And that could very well be the case. But there are still parties interested with the issue which reached its climax earlier this week.