The Carolina Panthers are on the record as saying they're not interested in talking trade with the Houston Texans for quarterback Deshaun Watson.
Even when talks between the Texans and the Miami Dolphins re-surfaced last week, the Panthers maintained publicly and privately that they would not be suitors.
Could that have changed on Sunday as Sam Darnold was benched early in the fourth quarter in a 25-3 loss to the New York Giants?
Back in April, just three years after hailing him as the savior of the franchise, the New York Jets traded Darnold to the Carolina Panthers. In return for Darnold, who was the No. 3 overall draft pick in 2018, the Jets received a 2021 sixth-rounder, and a second-rounder and fourth-rounder in 2022.
Darnold, who is just 24 years old, is under contract through 2022, thanks to the Panthers picking up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. That option will pay him upwards of $18.8 million, fully guaranteed.
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Panthers coach Matt Rhule is on record saying Darnold is the Panthers' starter, even in the midst of what was at the time a three-game losing streak, now four, Rhule maintained he was sticking with Darnold.
How desperate are the Panthers to have a bonafide starting quarterback?
Since David Tepper bought the Panthers in 2018, seven quarterbacks have started at least one game: Gam Newton, Kyle Allen, Taylor Heinicke, Will Grier, Teddy Bridgewater, P.J. Walker, and Darnold.
Carolina does not have the draft capital that other suitors do, such as Miami and Philadelphia, but they do have an aggressive owner and general manager.
Of all the deals general manager Scott Fitterer has made since being hired in January, 13 total, he has yet to include any of the team's future first-round picks in one.
How much would the Panthers be willing to pay? Only Tepper and Fitterer can answer that, but it's safe to say it might be more now that it's becoming apparent that Darnold might not be the answer.