The NFC South is all-in on Deshaun Watson. This week, the New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers emerged as favorites to land the Houston Texans quarterback, and now the Atlanta Falcons are reportedly in the mix. Per ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Falcons have emerged as a sleeper team to acquire Watson. They join their two rivals and the Cleveland Browns as the four reported teams that have shown the most interest in the embattled signal-caller.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank knows Watson, as he served as a Falcons ball boy years ago, per Schefter. While there appears to be a connection there, many around the league are questioning the Falcons' intentions. According to CBS Sports NFL insider Jason La Canfora, rival general managers are not buying the Falcons as a legitimate player in the Watson sweepstakes. With their rivals in a heated race for the star quarterback, the industry is reading this as an attempt to drive the price up.
Last week, it was reported that a grand jury will not indict Watson on allegations of sexual misconduct, which gave prospective suitors the hypothetical green light to pursue the quarterback. However, Watson will likely face punishment from the league. The Texans' reported asking price has been three first-round picks.
Just last month, Blank said there was "no reason to think" Matt Ryan wouldn't be the Falcons quarterback in 2022. Ryan was set to have a cap number of $48,662,500 this upcoming season, which would have been the largest salary cap hit for a player in NFL history. However, the team restructured his contract, which lowered his cap number for 2022, but ultimately just kicked the can down the road in 2023.
The 36-year-old Ryan has been the Falcons' franchise quarterback for 14 years now, but that could be about to change. That, or the Falcons want to attempt to inflate the asking price so a bitter rival is forced to pay even more for Watson's services.
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