Former Clemson QB Deshaun Watson has been claimed as untouchable by the Houston Texans' front office, but other teams around the NFL don't seem to believe it.
Almost half of the NFL has been linked with some sort of trade with the Texans for Watson, but only a few are prepared to offer what it'd take if the Texans officially make him available, which has yet to happen up to this point.
The Miami Dolphins have been tied to Watson rumors since the initial trade talk began, and those rumors have been reinforced in recent days with a report by the Miami Herald that the Dolphins would indeed be interested should Watson become available.
Miami could offer better immediate draft capital but seemingly remain undecided on whether second-year QB Tua Tagovailoa should be traded at all, with head coach Brian Flores reiterating the teams' commitment to Tagovailoa to ESPN just two weeks before Watson's official trade request from Houston came.
A team in the recent days that has solidified their push for not just Watson, but a new QB in general, is the Carolina Panthers.
The Panthers reportedly offered QB Teddy Bridgewater, their No. 8 overall pick and a fifth-round pick in the upcoming NFL Draft for QB Matthew Stafford before he was traded to Los Angeles, making their lust for a new franchise quarterback apparent to the entire league and to ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio.
“Whether it’s to Seattle and Russell Wilson or to Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers or to Minnesota and Kirk Cousins or to the Raiders and Derek Carr, the Panthers seem to be on the front end of a scorched-earth effort to get a franchise quarterback,” Florio said.
The Panthers have also released and restructured contracts of multiple players to open up even more cap space for a potential trade push, as they sat at the top of the NFL last season in terms of dead money on their cap table.
Watson may be the best of the bunch if made available, and according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Panthers' owner David Tepper seems to have tunnel vision on the former Clemson man.
"Carolina is beyond smitten with Watson and owner David Tepper is fairly consumed by the prospect of landing him and no matter what happens with this transcendent young quarterback (and I still believe he is dealt at some point), the Panthers are going to play some role in the process," La Canfora said. "They might not be able to secure him, ultimately, and others clearly possess higher draft capital, but when it comes to Watson, Tepper's aim is true and their desire is real."
Not even Pro Bowl running back Christian McCaffrey will keep the Panthers from the QB they want according to La Canfora.
"And while I don't believe the Panthers have in fact offered three first-round picks, plus McCaffrey, for Watson … I absolutely believe they would make that transaction in an instant," says La Canfora. "Don't expect the Texans to seriously entertain moving Watson until much closer to the draft – all the better to keep trying to drive the price up – but if/when they do, the Panthers will be motivated to make it happen."
The Texans and new GM Nick Caserio remain steadfast in their desire to retain Watson, but until that changes, the franchise QB may have to take his demand all the way into a hold out.