Deshaun Watson to the Panthers? Exploring a potential trade package
The Deshaun Watson sweepstakes is officially underway. On Wednesday evening, Baltimore Ravens assistant head coach and wide receivers coach David Culley was confirmed as the next head coach of the Houston Texans.
A lot of Houston Texans’ fans viewed the coaching search as a hail mary attempt of sorts. There was some hope that the team could use the vacancy as a ploy to fix the relationship with the superstar quarterback.
It did not take long for those hopes to be crushed, however. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter confirmed on Thursday that Deshaun Watson has asked for a trade, so he’s most likely has officially played his last snap in Houston.
Below is the tweet by Schefter about Watson requesting a trade by the Texans:
It is not inconceivable to say that Watson will be the most valuable player on the trading block in NFL history. Multiple teams will be involved in the pursuit of Watson’s services, but also remember Deshaun Watson does have a full no-trade clause in his contract.
The two teams that have currently been rumored the most are the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. Both of these destinations make sense. Each franchise is in a desirable city, and they both have a slew of resources to build around Watson.
New York and Miami both have multiple first round selections this year, which could potentially give them a leg up in the bidding war if other teams in the NFL make offers to the Texans.
That doesn’t mean more teams won’t be calling though. One team that seems primed and ready to insert themselves into the race for Deshaun Watson is the Carolina Panthers. Carolina owner David Tepper doesn’t like being told no, and the team severely needs a quarterback.
Watson played his college ball at Clemson, where he famously led the Tigers to their first national championship since 1981. Before committing to Clemson, Watson grew up in Atlanta which is a short three hours from Charlotte. Watson could be intrigued by the possibility of returning home, and reports around the league confirmed that the Panthers will absolutely be pursuing Watson.
Deshaun Watson Trade: What could the Texans receive from Carolina?
So, what would a trade package with the Panthers look like? It seems fair to suggest that the bare minimum starting point is three first round picks. Carolina currently holds the No. 8 selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, so we’ll go ahead and assume that the Panthers will offer this pick as well as their first round choices in 2022 and 2023.
Three first round picks most likely won’t be closing the deal, though. Let’s say Carolina also attaches their second round pick in 2021 (No. 39) and a third round pick in 2022.
So if you’re keeping count at home, that is five draft picks Carolina is sending to Houston in this theoretical trade. Houston still shouldn’t stop here, though. Again, this bidding war is going to be absolutely absurd. Since Carolina doesn’t have the extra allotment of draft choices to concede like the Jets and Dolphins do, Houston should also ask for a player back from Carolina.
This is where things get interesting. The hiring of Matt Rhule last January started off a rebuild in Carolina, so the roster currently has a lot of young talent.
The most dazzling player the Panthers have is superstar running back Christian McCaffrey, who is one of the league’s most dazzling offensive playmakers. McCaffrey is one of the most well known players in the league, and he would sell a lot of jerseys in Houston. Still only 24 years old, this is who Houston should be asking for, right?
I would actually disagree.
The Panthers recently signed McCaffrey to a four-year extension worth $64 million. While he is undoubtedly one of the league’s best running backs, that is still a lot of money the Texans would be committing to a position that seems to be declining in value as the league continues to evolve.
If I were in Nick Caserio’s shoes, the player I would have my eye on on that Carolina roster is edge rusher Brian Burns. Aside from quarterback, no role in the sport is more important today than being able to rush the passer. Considering J.J. Watt will also most likely be on a new team next year, the Texans will have a glaring need at pass rusher.
Burns is only 22 years old, and he seems destined to become one of the league’s premier edge rushers. The Florida State product finished his second year in the league with 58 tackles, nine sacks, and three forced fumbles.
If Carolina isn’t willing to part with Brian Burns, they could also take a look at safety Jeremy Chinn who shined as a rookie. Either Burns or Chinn would be a nice building block for Houston’s young and struggling defense.
To finish off this theoretical trade, we will also send Houston’s second round pick in 2023 back to Carolina.