NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told reporters on Tuesday that the league isn't ready to put embattled quarterback Deshaun Watson on the exempt list, as they've yet to access all the information linked to his legal investigation.
Based on Goodell's comments, it sounds as though Watson -- if traded by the Houston Texans before the Nov. 2 deadline -- would be able to play for a new team while the investigation continues. One emerging trade candidate is the Carolina Panthers, but franchise legend Jake Delhomme believes it wouldn't be wise for them to pursue Watson right now.
"I don't know who pulls off a deal. How do you pull off a deal when you don't know what's going to happen with everything in the legal world?" Delhomme told The Zach Gelb Show on Tuesday. "How do you trade for somebody when you don't know how the legal action is going to take place? How do you trade for somebody and just don't know? Now, if none of this was there, absolutely you trade for this kid.
"This is a franchise quarterback who, up until this past offseason, there was no baggage whatsoever. Now, how do you do it? I just don't understand how somebody can do that right now... You really have to have a pretty confident quarterback to give yourself a chance to make a run in the NFL. And he's one that I think gives you a chance. But how do you pull the trigger on that?"
Watson, who's requested a trade from Houston, is currently facing 22 lawsuits alleging acts of sexual assault and misconduct plus 10 criminal complaints. Although the three-time Pro Bowler reported to training camp on time to avoid holdout fines, he hasn't played a single snap this season, and remains under investigation by Houston police and the NFL.
The Panthers are likely reassessing their quarterback plans. The offense was anemic in a 25-3 road loss to the New York Giants on Sunday, as Sam Darnold threw for just 111 yards and was benched early in the fourth quarter. Following the game, Panthers first-year head coach Matt Rhule told reporters that the slumping Darnold "needs to play better" moving forward.
Texans general manager Nick Caserio has reportedly asked for three first-round picks plus two second-rounders in exchange for Watson, whose four-year, $156 million contract extension doesn't kick in until 2022.
Carolina (3-4) will visit the rival Atlanta Falcons (3-3) in a Week 8 matchup on Sunday afternoon. According to FiveThirtyEight's projections, the Panthers currently have a 5-percent chance to reach the playoffs.
The entire NFL conversation between Delhomme and Gelb can be accessed in the audio player above.