New Dark Horse Team Emerges in Deshaun Watson Trade Rumors

Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans
Wild Card Round - Buffalo Bills v Houston Texans / Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Deshaun Watson trade rumor mill has been working overtime the last few weeks. The disgruntled Texans signal-caller has been matched with several teams, from the Jets to the Dolphins to the 49ers and more. But I don't think any respected insider has discussed the team Ian Rapoport mentioned today.

During an appearance on the NFL Network, Rapoport described the Carolina Panthers as a "dark horse" and "really intriguing potential destination" in a trade for Watson. He also said the Panthers could draft a quarterback with the eighth overall selection, but no quarterback available in that position is expected to be as talented as Watson.

According to a respected Texans beat writer, Houston wants two first-round picks, two second-round picks and two starting defensive players in return for Watson. The Panthers could give up their top two picks this year and next, but their defense isn't exactly littered with talent. They could trade wide receiver D.J. Moore or Robby Anderson, a position the Texans need help at, but would that appeal to Watson considering he lost his top receiver while with the Texans? It's an interesting idea, but it seems the Jets and Dolphins have better assets in this trade scenario, hence Rapoport calling the Panthers a dark horse in this race.

The Panthers seem hell-bent on moving on from Teddy Bridgewater after one season, and were among the teams pursuing Matt Stafford before the Lions traded him to the Rams. The Panthers reportedly made the No. 8 pick available for that trade, which is pretty nuts considering Stafford isn't an elite talent like Watson.

Watson would be a huge step up from Bridgewater, but the Panthers have holes across their depth chart. Mortgaging at least four top draft picks, plus players for Watson seems counterproductive given their lack of depth on both sides of the ball. There are simply too many issues on that team for one player to fix.