The Carolina Panthers are getting off the hook too lightly regarding their pursuit of Deshaun Watson following more revelations about the signal-caller’s habits.
There was arguably no team in the NFL that maintained a heavy interest in Deshaun Watson more than the Carolina Panthers. It was a tireless pursuit that lasted more than a year despite the obvious concerns away from the gridiron and even when others went in different directions, this did not put the organization off from biding their time.
Once it was confirmed that Watson would not face legal charges relating to sexual misconduct allegations, the Panthers and others across the league made their play. Their trade offer to the Houston Texans was acceptable enough to get a meeting with the player, which saw the top figures from the franchise attempt to convince him to sign off on the deal.
As it turned out, Carolina missed out after they would not meet Watson’s contract demands. The Clemson product eventually signed for the Cleveland Browns and secured a fully guaranteed $230 million along the way.
Some concerning issues have surfaced for Watson in recent days. An HBO documentary was swiftly followed by two more women adding their names to the civil suits surrounding sexual misconduct, which takes the tally to 24 which could leave the player subject to a league suspension depending on their own independent investigation.
Some concerning reports were also published by an article in the New York Times, which accused Watson of having no fewer than 66 masseuses over a 12-month period that were enabled to extraordinary lengths by the Texans.
"“Watson has said publicly that he hired about 40 different therapists across his five seasons in Houston, but The Times’s reporting found that he booked appointments with at least 66 different women in just the 17 months from fall 2019 through spring 2021. A few of these additional women, speaking publicly for the first time, described experiences that undercut Watson’s insistence that he was only seeking professional massage therapy.”"
Watson once again denied the allegations on his Instagram story. But this is another example of just what a seedy situation this has been and continues to become.
Carolina Panthers deserve more scrutiny regarding Deshaun Watson process
David Tepper was relentless in his quest to land Watson. The elite quarterback that could turn the Panthers from also-rans into genuine contenders.
The billionaire even had his own team of private investigators conduct their own research into Watson’s concerning predicament. Even though it was clearly fracturing the fanbase and left many with a sour taste in their mouths.
If Tepper knew about all this and was still ready to take the plunge, that’s even worse.
One could argue that the Panthers dodged a bullet in this whole saga. But Joe Person of The Athletic tweeted a stark reminder about how all-in Carolina was and if they had their way, the NFL’s passing leader in 2020 would be leading the charge moving forward.
"“Deshaun Watson isn’t in Charlotte because the Panthers didn’t want to guarantee the later years of the contract and because he didn’t choose them.”"
The Panthers were not alone in making an offer for Watson and this is no longer their problem. However, they were in for the longest without success and if these grave allegations evolve further in the not-too-distant future, it will raise some significant concerns about the thought process and just what Carolina was willing to overlook to put additional wins on the board.
We are unlikely to get a proper explanation from anybody. Leading figures have been tight-lipped when asked so far and this is likely to continue.
This is a complete mess. Watson, the Browns, and anyone else that gambled on the signal-caller in the face of such off-the-field allegations are now under the microscope for all the wrong reasons.
Carolina will probably get off lightly, one suspects. But fans will not forget about this in a hurry and it’s yet another damning indictment of the way Tepper has conducted himself during a turbulent early tenure since purchasing the franchise from Jerry Richardson.