Because if one of their division rivals succeeds in landing Deshaun Watson, the greatest quarterback of all time will have a much more difficult time making it back to the Super Bowl next season.
But will the Houston Texans send their franchise player to Brady’s new division? Or will another NFL team swoop in and steal the superstar signal-caller?
Deshaun Watson officially wants out of Houston
Deshaun Watson seemingly cemented his future with the Texans when he signed a lucrative contract extension back in September.
Yet, as we approach February, it looks more and more likely that Houston will have to trade the 25-year-old quarterback this offseason.
Of course, the AFC South franchise only has itself to blame.
By essentially ignoring Watson during their general manager and head coach search, the Texans alienated their most important player. As a result, the three-time Pro Bowler has officially requested a trade.
While the Miami Dolphins and the New York Jets seem like logical landing spots, they will surely face competition for Watson’s services. After all, rarely does a player of his caliber become available.
However, the AFC East rivals could both miss out on securing one of the NFL’s biggest stars.
Because if one NFC South franchise succeeds in its pursuit of Watson, that will give Tom Brady a new rival to battle until he finally retires.
Tom Brady could soon have a new NFC South rival
Despite dealing with numerous distractions and challenges last season, Deshaun Watson put together an All-Pro worthy campaign. He set career-highs in completion percentage (70.2), passing yards (4,823), touchdowns (33), and quarterback rating (112.4). He also threw just seven interceptions—the lowest mark of his four-year career.
Considering Watson put up those numbers in an offense that doesn’t exactly boast impressive skill players, it’s scary to think what he could do in a better situation.
Ironically, he simply has to look at what Tom Brady has done in his first year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to see the benefit of playing with a more talented supporting cast. And while the Carolina Panthers don’t boast Hall of Fame-caliber players like Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski, they do have intriguing pieces and a forward-thinking coaching staff that could help Watson shine even more than he has in Houston.
In fact, don’t be surprised if Matt Rhule’s team ends up winning the sweepstakes for the Texans QB.
“Don’t sleep on the Carolina Panthers,” the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said on NFL Now on Thursday. “They are a team, I’m told, that is going to be aggressive in potentially acquiring Deshaun Watson.”
If the Panthers are truly committed to landing Watson, Brady will soon have a new rival in the NFC South. But before we pencil him in as the Panthers’ Week 1 starter, let’s take a look at what other teams can offer the Texans in a trade.
Can the Carolina Panthers outbid other NFL teams for the Texans QB?
The bidding war for Deshaun Watson will be a fascinating storyline to follow. Other than the Kansas City Chiefs, every other NFL team would conceivably upgrade at quarterback by trading for the Texans star.
But only a few franchises have the resources to make a competitive offer for Watson.
On paper, the Dolphins appear to have everything Houston could want in a trade package. Miami could send Tua Tagovailoa, the No. 3 pick, plus the 18th and 36th overall selections for Watson. The Texans would have a high-upside quarterback on a cheap rookie contract and several valuable draft picks to upgrade their roster. The Dolphins would instantly become a top Super Bowl contender.
The Jets could also put together an enticing offer. Could a package centered around Sam Darnold, the No. 2 pick, and additional draft selections convince the Texans to send Watson to New York?
As for the Panthers?
They hold the No. 7 pick in the upcoming draft. However, they would have to include a future first-round pick (at a minimum), plus a player or two to theoretically compete with the Dolphins or Jets.
Could contract-year receiver D.J. Moore get dangled as trade bait? The Texans could certainly use an upgrade at that position after Bill O’Brien foolishly got rid of DeAndre Hopkins.
Ultimately, Tom Brady and Deshaun Watson certainly have a chance to become NFC rivals in the near future. But if the Panthers want to pry away an elite player, they will have to pay a steep price to do so.
All statistics courtesy of Pro Football Reference.