The Carolina Panthers could have plenty of leverage when it comes to trading for one of the few veterans quarterbacks available this offseason.
Finding a long-term solution at the quarterback position has been an arduous task for the Carolina Panthers since Matt Rhule took the reins as head coach. A hasty decision to release Cam Newton has not resulted in the necessary improvements over the last two years and even saw the former NFL MVP return to the fold midway through the 2021 campaign with much fanfare but little in the way of wins.
Although it was the most difficult of situations for Newton, the chances of him coming back now appear unlikely despite the scenario not being ruled out entirely. One thing is for sure and that’s the fact Carolina cannot move forward with Sam Darnold as the team’s undisputed No. 1 option under center.
Darnold’s strong start was quickly followed by the same poor decision-making and complete lack of production behind a suspect offensive line. Keeping him on the books is almost certain given that the Panthers triggered his fifth-year option, but that won’t stop those in power from bringing in a replacement or competition if the right opportunity comes along.
With little in the way of top-end draft capital, this might result in Carolina reaching for a prospect at No. 6 overall. However, that might not bring the instant fix Rhule needs after team owner David Tepper opted to keep the former Baylor man around.
Perhaps a better solution in the short term would be another veteran trade. Not exactly what some Panthers fans want to hear, but it’s a realistic proposition nonetheless.
After failed bids for Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson, the Panthers have to be realistic. Especially considering the pool of available options has dwindled following an unbelievable period of trade activity across the league.
Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo are the names being linked with Carolina. Both would be an upgrade over Darnold, one suspects, but there are financial and compensation issues to consider before either scenario comes to fruition.
They might be desperate.
Rhule might be in a “lame duck” situation.
But the Panthers have plenty of leverage when it comes to any quarterback trade talks with the San Francisco 49ers and Cleveland Browns in the not-too-distant future.
Carolina Panthers could get some solid value with a QB trade in 2022
Firstly, both the Niners and Browns have clearly decided to move on from their previous options. San Francisco gave up the earth to move up and acquire Trey Lance during the 2021 NFL Draft and Cleveland ended up winning the Watson sweepstakes thanks in no small part to a fully guaranteed $230 million contract.
This presents a problem for both teams, who don’t want any unnecessary distractions and could probably do with some salary-cap relief, too.
Carolina could provide this with its current resources. But finding some middle ground with reduced draft compensation should be targeted as part of any negotiations.
Most teams have already figured things out at the most important position on the field next season. Perhaps only the Seattle Seahawks don’t have a genuine plan after dealing Wilson to the Denver Broncos, although Pete Carroll seems to like how Drew Lock might be able to fit into their system with a smooth transition.
This is all about supply and demand.
Another reason why the Panthers might be able to get a good deal that doesn’t jeopardize their long-term chances.
If Carolina goes down this route and picks up a left tackle at No. 6 overall, the better their chances will be. Should the trade not go right, then the Panthers will at least have solidified one problem position and get the opportunity to select a future franchise player from an exceptional 2023 draft class.
There won’t be much longer for fans to speculate.
But whatever decision Carolina makes should be done with the team’s long-term strategy in mind and not just because their head coach’s position is hanging in the balance.