What if the Texans and Panthers are in a Smokescreen War?
By Peter Manfre
Hear me out on this one…what if the Panthers don't actually like Bryce Young? What if the Panthers who were once reported to like two quarterbacks, still do? What if they really are split on their decision between Stroud and Young?
Let's just look at a timeline of what's going on since the Panthers originally traded up to number one. After trading up, it was reported that the Panthers were open to trading down with only the Texans because they liked two quarterbacks.
It appeared that the Texans had no interest in meeting the Panthers' trade demands. The only way the Texans would be open to that is if they thought the Panthers were going to draft the guy that they wanted or if someone else was going to jump the Texans. Well, what happens if someone doesn't want to meet your trade demands? You make them think that they need to trade with you to get who they want, and that's what I think the Panthers are doing.
The only way for Carolina to force the Texans to trade up would be to convince Houston that they were going to take the quarterback they wanted. That's the only way to get leverage, and if the Texans still believe that the Panthers prefer C.J. Stroud, why would they make a move?
In the last 2 weeks, the Panthers have gone from loving C.J. Stroud to being open to trading with the Texans (who reportedly only like Bryce Young), to now for sure drafting Bryce Young. Doesn't that seem a little bit strange? Looks pretty telegraphed, to me. I think it's a valid question to ask if the Panthers are trying to convince the Texans that the only way to get their quarterback in this year's draft is to trade up.
Now what I think is very funny, is that the Houston Texans haven't had many rumors leak about them in the Nick Caserio era. Yet over the last 10 days, there have been numerous reports about what the Texans will do, who they like, and who they don't like in the draft. This is not normal for a Houston Texans team that shocked everyone with their selections of Davis Mills, Derek Stingley, and even Jalen Pitre.
The response from the Texans to the rumors that Bryce will go number one has been for them to say that they are going to take a defender, namely Alabama's Will Anderson Jr. In fact, many have said that there are rumors that the Texans won't take any quarterbacks if it's not Bryce Young. They are essentially giving their best poker face in response to Carolina's and calling their bluff.
It almost seems to me that Nick Caserio, a general manager famous for not budging on offers he didn't like, could be leaking false information in response to the Panthers' smokescreens. It would be a wonderful attempt to counterattack the Panthers' potentially false leak.
The two organizations could be caught in quite the false reporting feud. We will only know the truth come draft day in Kansas City, where all eyes will be on the Panthers. If they end up taking C.J. Stroud, then maybe all of these rumors were just a smokescreen. Wouldn't that be fun?