The Carolina Panthers and Detroit Lions are among quarterback-needy teams pushing to the front of the line with trade offers to acquire Watson. The Panthers, per reports, are operating under orders from owner David Tepper to do what it takes to land Watson.
Watson, who learned Friday he would not face criminal charges for sexual misconduct related to claims from 22 women of wrongdoing, vowed not to play for the franchise in January 2021. He was inactive for all 17 regular-season games last season.
The Texans fired head coach David Culley after one season and promoted Lovie Smith to the role, but Houston’s position established by general manager Nick Caserio hasn’t changed: the franchise will deal Watson if it helps Houston.
Caserio hasn’t confirmed the asking price includes multiple first-round draft picks and additional assets — either draft capital or NFL players — but multiple reports Friday said the Texans have not shifted from their original ask of suitors.
The Panthers and Lions have veteran quarterbacks under contract they acquired in trades last offseason who could be included in any deal, and each team owns a pick in the top 10 of the 2022 NFL Draft.
ESPN reported the Panthers’ offer would be “aggressive” and the team is “all in” on a Watson deal.
The Tacoma News Tribune reported the Seahawks are “in the mix” for Watson after trading Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos.
Other teams who could push for Watson include the Indianapolis Colts, Cleveland Browns, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints.
The Colts are unlikely to be a match with Caserio given they share a division with the Texans. Indianapolis is pursuing what will be the team’s sixth Week 1 starter in six years after trading Carson Wentz to the Washington Commanders.
Cleveland is at a crossroads with Baker Mayfield as the Browns decide whether to commit with a long-term contract, but general manager Andrew Berry reportedly has been engaged with the Texans and agreed to another trade for Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper.
Tom Brady’s retirement in February puts the Buccaneers in uncertain territory. Head coach Bruce Arians said second-year quarterback Kyle Trask could start in 2022, but also mentioned veteran journeyman Blaine Gabbert — Brady’s backup last season — as a possibility.
New Orleans hasn’t settled on a starter since Sean Payton’s retirement. Jameis Winston is an unrestricted free agent recovering from a torn ACL. Two quarterbacks are on the current roster, including versatile Taysom Hill and Ian Book. Teddy Bridgewater, who opened last season as the starter for the Broncos, is a familiar veteran who could make sense for head coach Dennis Allen.