NFL Rumors: Panthers Aggressively Clearing Cap Space, Want to Make a Run at Watson

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In the span of 24 hours, David Tepper and the Panthers aggressively cleared cap space, according to ESPN's David Newton. And rumor has it that the franchise is gearing up to make a run for Deshaun Watson. 

Carolina released three players Friday, increasing its cap space to $28.5 million. Defensive end Stephen Weatherly, safety Tre Boston and punter Michael Palardy were all cut just days after the franchise released Pro Bowl defensive tackle Kawann Short earlier in the week. 

According to ESPN, Boston's release won't be official until the league year starts on March 17 and includes a post-June 1 designation. Including Boston's release, the Panthers would be roughly $36 million below the cap. The safety released a statement on Saturday thanking the Panthers and fans. 

On Saturday morning, the Panthers converted $7.04 million of Matt Paradis's $8.03 million base salary in 2021 into a signing bonus, according to ESPN's Field Yates

These moves have brought the team into the top 10 in the league for cap space, and signs are indicating that the Panthers want to add Watson, who has made it clear that he wants to be traded from the Texans. 

League sources told The Athletic's Joe Person that Tepper has grown frustrated with Carolina's quarterback situation after an injured Cam Newton, underwhelming performance from Teddy Bridgewater and features from Taylor Heinicke, Kyle Allen and Will Grier over the years. 

Carolina has enough room now to absorb Watson's 2021 cap hit, which is set to be $15.94 million. But, it'll then jump to $40.4 million in 2022. Watson's 2021 cap hit, though, is lower than Bridgewater's ($23 million). 

Check out the latest news and notes from around the NFL:

  • The Dolphins could join the bidding pool for Watson. (Barry Jackson, Miami Herald).  
  • The Browns are re-signing Robert Jackson after waiving him just over a week ago. (Mary Kay Cabot, Cleveland.com