The Carolina Panthers made several roster moves this week in an effort to clear up a significant amount of salary-cap space in order to make a run at Houston Texans’ quarterback Deshaun Watson, reports say.
A source told ESPN that the Panthers released four players this week, freeing $19.9 million in cap space, in order to make a push for Watson in the event that the Texans decide to trade the disgruntled quarterback who reportedly wants out.
On Wednesday, Carolina released defensive tackle Kawann Short. Defensive end Stephen Weatherly, safety Tre Boston and punter Michael Palardy were released two days later.
Center Matt Paradis also had his contract restructured on Saturday morning clearing an additional $4.69 million. The Panthers now rank 8th in the league in available cap space with around $31 million, according to OverTheCap.com.
Texans Chairman and CEO Cal McNair shut down trade rumors last week after they announced the release of veteran defensive end J.J. Watt.
“Deshaun is our quarterback, he is a Texan, and we expect him to remain a Texan, and we’ll leave [it at] that,” McNair said.
A trade could still happen and the Panthers want to be prepared.
The tipping point for Watson appeared to be when the team hired new general manager Nick Caserio without his input. The hiring of new head coach David Culley thereafter had no effect on Watson’s desire to be traded, according to multiple reports
Watson, who was drafted by the Texans in 2017, signed a four-year, $156 million contract extension in September. He finished the 2020 season with a league-high 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdowns and a career-low seven interceptions.