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Should Panthers try to trade for Deshaun Watson? Former Panthers GM weighs in

Bill Polian (right) and Dom Capers were the two men most responsible for constructing Carolina’s early rosters in the mid-1990s.

Bill Polian (proper) and Dom Capers had been the 2 males most accountable for setting up Carolina’s early rosters in the mid-Nineties.

If Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson really did become available via trade — and there are reviews that he’s upset with workforce administration — the Carolina Panthers ought to completely go get him.

That can be my opinion anyway.

How typically does a wholesome, 25-year-old franchise quarterback come obtainable? You trade for the previous Clemson star, irrespective of the price in gamers, draft picks and wage cap, and instantly your QB downside is solved. Then you rebuild the remainder of the workforce round him.

But I wished a way more knowledgeable opinion than mine. So I known as Bill Polian, the Pro Football Hall of Fame basic supervisor who was a six-time NFL Executive of the Year — together with for the primary two years of the Carolina Panthers’ existence, in 1995 and 1996.

Polian, 78, lives in the Lake Norman space and stays energetic in all types of soccer enterprise. He lately launched a wonderful new podcast — Inside Football with Bill Polian — and likewise seems repeatedly on Sirius XM.

Long one of many smartest males in soccer and an government who took each Buffalo and Indianapolis to the Super Bowl, Polian gave solutions to my Watson questions that had been much more nuanced than the new takes voiced by all of the sports activities media screamers.

Polian additionally evaluated Teddy Bridgewater for me. And he spoke in regards to the trade the Panthers tried to execute with him in 1998, when Polian had simply began operating the Indianapolis Colts.

Carolina provided quarterback Kerry Collins, broad receiver Muhsin Muhammad and a bushel of draft picks to Polian in return for the No. 1 general choose in that draft. The Panthers wished to choose Peyton Manning, and the way otherwise would the Panthers’ historical past have been if Polian had taken that deal?

Here are excerpts from our dialog. (Questions and solutions are edited for readability and brevity.)

Scott Fowler: Should the Panthers have a look at buying and selling for Deshaun Watson, if he had been obtainable?

Bill Polian: Let me reply it generically, as a result of I don’t need to farm one other man’s land. In a generic state of affairs, for those who want a quarterback, your place is: ‘I’m turning over each rock I presumably can and taking a look at each situation I presumably can to be sure that I’ve achieved every thing I presumably can to discover a quarterback.’

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Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) is reportedly sad that he wasn’t consulted about hiring the workforce’s new basic supervisor. Although Watson signed a brand new contract extension in 2020, there may be hypothesis that he may be traded. Butch Dill AP

SF: So for those who’re the brand new Panthers GM, whomever that seems to be, you’ll have to a minimum of discover the chance?

BP: You have to decide who’s on the market. And if there’s a man who would possibly have the option to get you to the promised land, you’ve to say, ‘OK, what do I have to do?’ And meaning you establish what it’s you’re prepared to pay, realizing full nicely as you speak to your proprietor — as a result of the proprietor has to be concerned in a marquee participant deal like this is able to be — that it’s going to be a stupendous value.

If you’re a workforce that’s trying for a QB, although, you look arduous — each single minute of each single day. And you’ll be able to’t afford to say, ‘Well, no, the price will be too high’ or ‘No, they won’t trade him’ or ‘No, this guy’s not obtainable.’ You’ve received to flip over each rock, since you by no means know.

SF: What can be your guess as to whether or not Watson is definitely traded wherever?

BP: I believe there is no such thing as a willingness (on Houston’s half). My first guess — and it’s solely a guess — is that they’re going to sit down and talk with (Watson) and see if they will’t get it straight. If I had been a betting man, and you realize that I’m not, I’d take ‘No trade.’

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Former Carolina Panthers basic supervisor Bill Polian walks alongside the sphere of Bank of America Stadium in 2013. Polian constructed the Panthers workforce that made it to the NFC Championship sport in 1996. Jeff Siner [email protected]

SF: If this goes additional down the highway although, Watson reportedly would have to consent to any trade, which means he would have a giant say in the place he went.

BP: Again, talking generically about any high-level participant, that modifications the entire course of utterly. The agent will say: ‘Here’s a listing of groups that we wish to go to.’ And my response can be: ‘OK. You’ve received to consent to the trade, however we’ve received to agree to trade you. So we’re not going to trade you.’

Then, having established some leverage, we may have a dialogue a few very small variety of groups you’re adamantly opposed to going to and why. If you need to be traded, you give us the widest potential variety of groups that we are able to speak to. That’s the skilled approach.

Should Teddy Bridgewater get replaced?

SF: To even take into account getting concerned in this hypothetical deal, the Panthers would first have to resolve how badly they need to exchange Teddy Bridgewater. What was your analysis of Bridgewater’s first 12 months as Panthers QB in 2021?

BP: First of all, I’m a Teddy fan. Think he’s tremendously powerful. I feel he’s an excellent chief. I feel his arm is sweet sufficient. He sees issues nicely. Pretty unflappable.

The fear for me is that he’s not a transcendent expertise. He can’t beat you on his means alone. He has to have actually good folks round him to try this. So he’s one degree down from (Patrick) Mahomes and Josh Allen and Drew (Brees) and people varieties of individuals.

SF: Would you place Deshaun Watson in that top-tier ‘transcendent talent’ class?

BP: Oh, sure. He can beat you along with his personal means. His legs. His arms. All of that.

Polian and Capers 1998
Bill Polian (proper) and Dom Capers had been the 2 males most accountable for setting up Carolina’s early rosters in the mid-Nineties. PATRICK SCHNEIDER

SF: Any different considerations about Bridgewater?

BP: My solely actual reservation is, ‘Can he stay healthy?’ Because a very powerful means is availability. Teddy can win on the highest degree — he proved that in New Orleans and Minnesota.

He can win for you in the National Football League, with an excellent workforce round him. My solely reservation is damage. I really feel horrible for what he went by means of in Minnesota. And he received nicked up just a little bit this 12 months. But he is an effective quarterback.

SF: So you’ll fee the Panthers kind of in the center of all NFL groups on the QB place?

BP: They’re type of in the center. That’s precisely proper.

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Bill Polian (driving the golf cart) took quarterback Kerry Collins (entrance left) at No. 5 general in the 1995 NFL draft for the Carolina Panthers. Later, when Polian was with Indianapolis, the Panthers tried to trade Collins again to him. KENT JOHNSON

A Panthers trade for Peyton Manning?

SF: Speaking of trades, in 1998 you had left Carolina and had been holding the primary choose with the Indianapolis Colts.

Jerry Richardson, who then owned the Panthers, informed The Charlotte Observer years in the past that the workforce provided quarterback Kerry Collins, broad receiver Muhsin Muhammad and a bushel of excessive draft picks to get that choose from you. The Panthers had in thoughts drafting Peyton Manning at No. 1, which you probably did as a substitute.

Is it true that the Panthers tried arduous to get that choose?

BP: Yes. They provided lots for it, that’s true. I don’t keep in mind precisely, however that sounds shut. We had a variety of provides. But we determined that we weren’t buying and selling the choose.

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Kevin Greene, who’s No. 3 on the all-time NFL sack listing, died in December at age 58. CHRISTOPHER A. RECORD

SF: Lastly, we haven’t spoken since the death of your fellow Hall of Famer Kevin Greene in December, at age 58. You introduced Greene to Charlotte as a free agent in 1996 to play exterior linebacker. What are your reminiscences of Kevin as a participant?

BP: Dom (Capers, the Panthers’ coach on the time) beloved him, as did I. So making an attempt to purchase him as our No. 1 free agent goal was a no brainer.

Kevin was important to making our protection nearly as good because it was. And when he left (in 1997, in a contract dispute), we by no means changed it.

The instance Kevin confirmed, as a result of he was so undersized — it simply lifted everybody. People typically discuss quarterbacks this fashion, however there are defenders that may additionally match the mildew. They make everyone round them higher due to their expertise, and most significantly due to their competitiveness, and work ethic, and management and indomitable spirit. And that’s what he was.

And when he left, we misplaced all of that. What was a fantastic protection grew to become mediocre. Immediately.

Sports columnist Scott Fowler has written for The Charlotte Observer since 1994. He has authored or co-authored eight books, together with 4 in regards to the Carolina Panthers. Fowler has gained the Thomas Wolfe award for excellent newspaper writing and 13 nationwide APSE awards. He hosted the Observer’s 8-part podcast “Carruth,” which Sports Illustrated journal named as 2018’s “Podcast of the Year.”
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