CHARLOTTE, NC – The Carolina Panthers won’t chase Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson as the NFL trading deadline approaches Tuesday, a league source confirmed to ESPN on Wednesday.
ESPN and multiple media outlets reported earlier this week that the Panthers (3-4) had renewed their interest in possibly pursuing a Watson trade amid the team’s four-game losing streak and quarterback Sam Darnold’s bench press in losing on Sunday against New York Giants. Carolina reportedly investigated the possibility of trading for Watson during the off-season.
“You know it wasn’t mine,” said coach Matt Rhule on Monday of Carolina’s interest. “I have nothing to add to that. My focus is on this team.”
Darnold remains the Panthers quarterback for Sunday’s game with the Atlanta Falcons.
Watson has faced 22 sexual assault and inappropriate behavior lawsuits and has not downplayed Texans this season. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, and the former Clemson star only waived it for the Miami Dolphins.
The league source wouldn’t go into detail on why the Panthers won’t pursue Watson, a decision first reported by the NFL Network. The Panthers tracked Watson before the trial earlier this year and before trading with the New York Jets for Darnold.
But much of the responses on social media to a potential chase for the quarterback have been negative. Just four years ago, former team owner Jerry Richardson was fined $ 2.75 million by the NFL after investigating alleged workplace misconduct, including sexual harassment and using a racial slur with a team scout.
Richardson sold the team to David Tepper for an NFL record of $ 2.275 billion. Tepper was in favor of persecuting Watson, at least initially, sources said.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said at owners meetings this fall on Tuesday that there wasn’t enough information about the allegations against Watson to put him on the commissioner’s list of exemptions. So Watson is currently eligible to play if it is traded.
The Dolphins are considered the strongest contender for Watson. The Texans’ price for the quarterback was at least three first-round draft picks and possibly other players.
League sources said the Panthers are unwilling to give up the three first-round players while trying to rebuild the draft.