Counterpoint: Panthers are in no place to mortgage their future on Deshaun Watson

Alaina Getzenberg
·3 min read

There are maybe two or three NFL teams who shouldn’t at least be interested in trading with the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson.

When it comes to the Carolina Panthers and Watson, or for that matter a number of quarterbacks whose names will be linked as trade possibilities, even if they aren’t realistic (looking at you, Russell Wilson) there will be plenty of rumors about what’s to come. That fervor isn’t going anywhere soon. Watson has requested a trade from the Texans, but Houston hasn’t publicly given any indication they will do so. The drama writes itself.

The Panthers aren’t wrong to be interested in a quarterback that can help the team in the long-term. Teddy Bridgewater is not viewed as the future, so a solution is needed. But that doesn’t mean that there should be no limit, no check, on how much the team would give up to get him.

As my colleague Scott Fowler smartly wrote, a top quarterback can immediately elevate a team. He makes the players around him better and leads the offense to a level it could not have reached without his presence.

But we’re talking about this Panthers team in particular. Just over a year ago, owner David Tepper spoke about how, “Rome wasn’t built a day,” and that rebuilding this team was going to take time. He asked for patience. That hasn’t changed in one year under head coach Matt Rhule, and general manager Scott Fitterer just walked into the building for the first time over a month ago.

Point: Panthers have to do everything to trade for Deshaun Watson, no matter the cost

This team is a work in progress. Finding a quarterback is a massive part of that, but it’s not all of it. Far from it. Fitterer said his team-building philosophy starts with the quarterback and then extends to both the offensive and defensive lines.

There is not a single long-term answer on the offensive line with four of five starters still set to become free agents. Many trade proposals include Brian Burns, the best player on the defensive line. Who fills his role if a handful of draft picks down the line are gone? A nice story of signing Watson, the former Clemson star, doesn’t win football games on its own.

The needs on this roster, as things stand today, are extensive: Both lines, tight end, wide receiver, linebacker, cornerback, safety. All that before any hypothetical trades of the team’s best players take place.

It’s late February. A lot can happen. Teams that aren’t publicly known will at minimum make a phone call for someone like Watson. If the Texans decide to engage, the return should be immense. What other quarterbacks are out there like him? He’s 25-years old with a fresh contract. It’s as simple as supply and demand.

Should the Panthers be interested in Watson? Absolutely, but there needs to be a reasonable limit on what they will give up to get him. Three first-round picks, Teddy Bridgewater and Christian McCaffrey? Maybe so, but throwing in too much will leave Carolina with Watson but not much else around him. It takes more than a quarterback to build something for the long haul.