As the Deshaun Watson trade rumours continue to take sports media over, one destination that has quietly become a frontrunner for the Texans quarterback are the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers finished with a record of 5-11 with new quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and it looks like their relationship is falling apart as Bridgewater has made his Instagram account private, after the media found out about his unfollowing of the Panthers. His 3 year deal with Carolina is worth $63 million, and many people would say he’s not playing like he’s worth that money. If the Panthers were able to get rid of Bridgewater, and bring in Watson, how far could they go in the coming years?

What would his surroundings look like?

In his most recent season in Houston, Deshaun Watson had decent weapons to work with, and a not so decent offensive line. The Panthers offensive line isn’t a huge improvement, but it is for sure better than what he had with the Texans. They weren’t great, but they weren’t terrible either. His main receivers would be D.J. Moore, Robby Anderson, and Curtis Samuel. Definitely a solid group of receivers that Watson can get the job done with. But is this a group that can take them deep into the playoffs? When we look at teams that made it to the playoffs, almost all of them feature an elite receiver that can catch most balls you throw up to him. Don’t get me wrong, Moore is good, but Carolina would need to bring in an elite WR to promise Deshaun more success. And, of course, his star running back Christain McCaffrey. McCaffrey only played 3 games this season, but it almost seemed as if the Panther knew what kind of situation they were in after the first 10 games, and therefore played his injury very conservatively. He is the best run & catch RB in the league, and can get a lot done for this offense. Compared to David Johnson, who is past his prime, this is a huge upgrade for Watson. His offense would keep a lot of defenses guessing with the amount of talent on it. Going back to the WR situation, they could maybe even snag a top WR with the number eight pick, likely not because Caleb Farley should be available at that time. 

The schedule

With Deshaun Watson at QB, it’s safe to say with an average roster than any team has a chance at winning. We thought Bridgewater could bring a similar effect, but it didn’t turn out that way. Watson almost threw for 5,000 yards this season, with 33 touchdowns and just 7 interceptions. All being the best of his career so far. It’s safe to say he is nearing the beginning of his prime, and with his talent, he will be giving all defenses a problem. When you look at the schedule for Carolina, the Saints and Buccaneers are divisional rivals, and therefore they will face them twice. There are also opponents like Arizona, Washington, Buffalo, Dallas, and Miami who have a lot of talent on their roster. Assuming that the Panthers keep this wide receiving core, with the addition of a late round pick, I’m not sure if they could even tie the season series with the Bucs. It can be a close game, but that offense and defense is as scary as it gets. Depending on the Saints situation, I see them winning 1, if not, 2 games against them. A test against a team like Washington would be tough because of their defense. But that’s exactly what you get in Deshaun Watson. A productive game, regardless of the defense. He won’t completely fall off facing a d-line like Washington, instead he will play it out smart, and pick apart the defense’s weaknesses. The two divisions that Panthers will face include the NFC and AFC East. These two divisions each have one top team, and the rest still have a lot to plan for in the future. All in all, this team goes 10-6, and makes a Wild Card spot. I think they have what it takes to win big games with Watson, they will just need to upgrade the defense a bit to have full confidence. The farthest I see this team going in the playoffs is the divisional round. It would be Watson’s first year with this young team, in which a lot of them would be playing in the playoffs for the first time. In the coming years, they could go farther, I still think that they need that tier 1 or 2 elite wideout. 

What we are currently hearing from the Texans signals that Watson will not be traded, but Deshaun is doing everything in his power to get him out of H-Town. It would be interesting to see him in a Carolina uniform, playing under second-year head coach Matt Rhule. He would make this offense flow better, and would also help regain confidence in the Panthers organization, and their fanbase. He will be playing in a tough NFC South division, but he’s played tough opponents before, and shown time after time that with a good team with trust and him, they have a chance.

Top Photo: Panthers Wire- USA Today

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