4 partners if Carolina Panthers decide to trade down from No. 8

(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Ron Rivera
(Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule and Ron Rivera /
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Carolina Panthers
(Chuck Cook -USA TODAY Sports) Mike Zimmer /

Minnesota Vikings

Yet another team that could be in the quarterback sweepstakes come draft night is the Minnesota Vikings. Kirk Cousins’ contract is set to expire following the 2022 season, but he could theoretically be cut next offseason in what would offer major savings towards the salary cap.

If the Vikings feel as though Cousins isn’t the guy who can lead them to a championship, then this could be the year they nab a top quarterback in the draft.

Minnesota is currently slated to pick 14th, but with the Broncos sitting right behind the Carolina Panthers at No. 9, they could be a threat to steal one of the five projected first-round quarterbacks. The Vikings had three front-office members in attendance for Trey Lance’s pro day in March – including their general manager Rick Spielman and offensive coordinator Klint Kubiak.

If Minnesota were to draft a top-rated quarterback in the near future, then this could be the year. Lance would seem the most likely option, but to get him they would almost certainly have to trade up, potentially swapping picks with the Panthers.

Carolina would likely receive only a second-round pick at best – which the Vikings don’t have until 2022 – but could still get a very high-quality player if they were to move down to No. 14.

The mid-teen range would give the Panthers an opportunity to take another offensive weapon for Sam Darnold, possibly even one of Alabama’s star receivers. If not another playmaker, then the offensive line could be a position that they could address should they trade down.

Rashawn Slater, who is the consensus second-best offensive tackle in the draft may be there, but more likely options would be Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw or USC’s Alijah Vera-Tucker.

Carolina signed Cameron Erving in March to presumably help fill the void at left tackle, but at this point in his career, he is more of a utility lineman than a purebred blindside protector. Trading back with Minnesota would still allow the Panthers to help shore up the position moving forward while nabbing additional draft capital in the process.