Are the Panthers clearing the deck to make a move for Deshaun Watson?

The Panthers went on a salary cap clearing spree on Friday. Were the moves made as a precursor to a big trade for Deshaun Watson?

Rumors connecting the Panthers as a potential landing spot for Deshuan Watson just won’t go away. Anyone inclined to buy into those rumors got more ammunition from Carolina on Friday.

Tre Boston, Michael Palardy, and Stephen Weatherly all reportedly got the news they will be cut by the franchise prior to the start of the 2021 campaign. The timing on all three releases will depend on what benefits the Panthers’ salary cap the most.

Boston started all 16 games of the 2020 season for Carolina while Weatherly made nine starts of his own. It’s worth noting neither player was particularly good despite the massive amount of playing time they received. Boston finished the season with a PFF grade of 53.8 while Weatherly checked in just behind him at 53.7. Palardy missed all of last season due to injury.

It’s easy to point out that releasing all three players was just a product of prudent cap management by the Panthers’ front office. It’s more interesting to suggest that the moves are part of a grand design to open up the salary cap space required to trade for Watson.

The Panthers certainly have an interest in securing an upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater as soon as possible. Watson would absolutely qualify as a massive improvement at the game’s most important position. It’s still unclear whether or not the Texans have any intention of parting with the face of their franchise anytime soon.

If Carolina is going to make that sort of seismic trade, they’ll need to part with a king’s ransom in draft capital. Three first-round picks will likely be the starting point for negotiations. It’s possible the Panthers would need to add a talented young player or more picks into the deal to finally push it across the finish line.

Add it all up and there’s no reason for Panthers fans to get too excited here. Releasing Boston, Palardy and Weatherly make sense for the team no matter who they deploy under center in 2021. The moves could turn out to be a precursor for a mammoth trade for Watson, but they could also just provide Carolina the financial flexibility to be more active in free agency.

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