Deshaun Watson’s legal issues, no-trade clause uncertainty caused Panthers to back off trade pursuit, sources say


The Carolina Panthers had no further interest in trading for Deshaun Watson due to lack of clarity with his legal situation and Watson’s plans with his no-trade clause, sources told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

Watson is facing 22 lawsuits alleging sexual assault and inappropriate behavior and has not played a down for the Texans this season. He has a no-trade clause in his contract, which he’s willing to waive for the Dolphins.

The Panthers, who explored a potential Watson deal dating back to the offseason, got indications that Watson would be interested in playing for them but hadn’t received that commitment in writing — a customary step for a no-trade clause — as of this week.

“[The Panthers] felt he would have come to Carolina, but [that] he wanted Miami first,” a source told ESPN.

Sources told ESPN that Carolina didn’t want to wait any longer to conduct their own research into Watson’s legal issues, whether or not Watson was gong to waive the clause eventually. That research would have taken several days, most likely. Now, as a source added, it’s probably too late.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said Tuesday at the fall owners meetings the there wasn’t enough information about the allegations against Watson to put him on the commissioner’s exempt list. So Watson currently is eligible to play if traded.

The Dolphins have been considered the strongest contender for Watson. The expectation league-wide is the Texans are asking for at least three first-round picks and possibly other players. It’s unclear which teams are willing to pay that price before Tuesday.



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