The Carolina Panthers have made significant cap-saving moves recently, and they now seemingly have one blockbuster target in mind.
The Texans, however, have continuously said they will not part ways with their star quarterback despite his demands.
"He is a Houston Texan. I want him to be a Houston Texan," new head coach David Culley said at his introductory presser in January. "The reason I'm in this position today is because I know he's going to be a Houston Texan."
The Panthers improved their cap space from $8.5 million to $28.48 million after releasing defensive tackle Kawann Short on Wednesday and defensive end Stephen Weatherly, safety Tre Boston, and punter Michael Palardy on Friday.
The cap-saving measures give Carolina the ability to take on Watson's $15.94-million hit in 2021 and would better position the club to work around his $40.4-million number in 2022.
Carolina also needs to re-sign impending free-agent right tackle Taylor Moton and could need to use the $13.6-million franchise tag if a long-term deal isn't agreed upon before the league's new year begins.
The NFC South club has already made clear its desire to upgrade at quarterback with a pursuit of Matthew Stafford prior to his trade to the Los Angeles Rams. Carolina reportedly offered the Detroit Lions the No. 8 pick, a fifth-rounder, and QB Teddy Bridgewater.
Carolina would likely be among a host of teams interested in trading for Watson. The Miami Dolphins, Denver Broncos, San Francisco 49ers, and New York Jets have been speculated as top destinations for the Pro Bowl signal-caller.
Watson, who signed a four-year, $156-million extension in September, set career highs with 4,823 passing yards and 33 touchdowns this season.