On Friday morning, the Carolina Panthers announced the release of veteran safety Tre Boston. While this could easily be overlooked as a simple offseason move, football analysts and fans everywhere believe this decision could have larger implications.
Could the Panthers be clearing cap space to make a run at Deshaun Watson? Twitter sure seems to think so.
In what was going to be his sixth year with the Carolina franchise, Boston was under contract through 2021 with a base salary of $3.69 million. If the move is designated as a post-June 1 release, the Panthers will free up about $3.5 million in cap space, per Spotrac.
According to ESPN NFL insider Jeremy Fowler, the front office has also announced the release of defensive end Stephen Weatherly and punter Michael Palardy. Together, these two were scheduled to earn about $6 million in base salary through 2021.
With all this extra cap space newly opened, Carolina can now make an aggressive run at some top free agents.
The Panthers have quickly emerged as one of the frontrunners in the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes. Earlier this week, ESPN released its predictions of the starting quarterback for each of the 32 NFL franchises in 2021.
The Carolina prediction? Deshaun Watson.
Here's what ESPN NFL insider Field Yates had to say about the possibility:
“I’ve been on record forecasting Watson to Miami, but recently my tenor has changed with more support from the Dolphins for Tua Tagovailoa and the Panthers’ previous aggressive pursuit of Matthew Stafford. . . Houston has no interest in trading him away right now, but we know this has already been ugly. If you ultimately trade away a franchise quarterback, moving him to a team you play once every four years is preferred to an in-conference foe (assuming the offers are comparable).”
With multiple franchises gunning for the QB and the Houston Texans reluctant to let go, a Panthers-Watson trade is still a long shot.
That being said, it's clear some big moves are going on down in Charlotte.