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

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Scott Fowler
·3 min read
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Give Houston the house.

This column about why the Carolina Panthers should do practically anything to pry quarterback Deshaun Watson away from the Houston Texans is about 500 words long, but you can boil it down to just those four.

Trade Christian McCaffrey to make it happen? Yes.

Multiple first-round draft picks, too? Yes.

Teddy Bridgewater. Absolutely.

Brian Burns? I’d hate to do it, but yes.

An elite NFL quarterback who is 25 years old, has roots to your area and is signed to a manageable contract?! That’s Watson, and that’s also the dream of every NFL team.

A high-level QB can take you to places your team will otherwise never go. Witness Tom Brady at Tampa Bay this season. Yes, the Buccaneers also won the Super Bowl with defense, but most of that defense and almost all of those receivers were there before. The difference was No. 12.

I know what you’re saying, and my colleague Alaina Getzenberg makes a totally reasonable case for the opposing viewpoint in our dueling columns. Give up too much and you might be in the same bind.

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

And yes, Brady was a free agent. Tampa Bay gave up nothing but money.

The Panthers will have to give up money, high-end players and first-round draft choices to even stand a chance against the other bidders for Watson — and that’s assuming Houston ends this nasty standoff with their star QB by trading him at all.

But Watson, the former Clemson star, would be worth taking a chance.

Coach Matt Rhule and GM Scott Fitterer are smart guys. They can cobble together a decent team around Watson. Fitterer, the new GM, said he wants to be “in on every deal.” This one would be career-defining.

New Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer was hired in January and says he wants to be “in on every deal” in the NFL. If he could work a trade to get Deshaun Watson, it could be career-defining.
New Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer was hired in January and says he wants to be “in on every deal” in the NFL. If he could work a trade to get Deshaun Watson, it could be career-defining.

It’s not like the Panthers would be blowing up an 11-5 team to upgrade at QB. They’d be blowing up a 5-11 team — one that has made the playoffs just once in the past five seasons.

Panthers owner Dave Tepper is bullish on trading for Watson. He should be.

Alternately, if a disgruntled Russell Wilson somehow became available to the Panthers, all this still stands. I wouldn’t have traded the house for Matthew Stafford, but I would for Wilson, too.

Peter King, the highly respected NFL columnist, recently proposed a 7-for-1 deal between the Panthers and Texans. In return for Watson, the Panthers would have to give up McCaffrey, Bridgewater, their first- and second-round picks in the 2021 draft (8 and 39), a first-round pick in 2022 and a third-round pick in 2023.

Count me in. You’d still be left with DJ Moore, Brian Burns, Jeremy Chinn, Donte Jackson and Derrick Brown. Either way, the offensive line has to be rebuilt. But you’d have Watson.

Former Panthers coach Ron Rivera once told me that quarterback play was “55%” of any NFL game — and that’s coming from a defense-first guy. Think about that. Everything else is 45%. How your quarterback plays is all the rest

That’s why you trade for Watson, no matter what it takes.