What would Mike Tomlin trade to the Carolina Panthers look like?

(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Tomlin
(Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports) Mike Tomlin /

What would a potential trade for Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin look like if the Carolina Panthers went down this bold route?

There’s no denying the fine job Steve Wilks is doing for the Carolina Panthers as interim head coach. His ability to galvanize a talented group of players and put positive results on the board has seen the franchise go from bottom-feeders to potentially securing a postseason spot by winning the NFC South title with a strong end to the campaign.

This was unthinkable when Wilks took over from Matt Rhule, who wasn’t cut out for NFL coaching and will now begin trying to salvage what’s left of his reputation at Nebraska. There’s a completely different feel across the franchise right now and if they win out, a home playoff game will be theirs.

One would think this scenario would be enough for Wilks to get a longer-term commitment from team owner David Tepper. But there is a growing belief from those within the national media that the billionaire will go in a different direction.

This would be a shock of epic proportions, to put it mildly. However, it’s worth remembering how unpredictable and gung-ho Tepper has been from a decision-making standpoint since buying the Panthers from Jerry Richardson.

All the talk is of Tepper eyeing a progressive offensive mind. Even if this comes with significant risk as not everyone turns out to be Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay.

Carolina Panthers touted for potential Mike Tomlin trade

Should the hedge fund manager go a little bolder, then perhaps exploring the possibility of a head coach via trade will enter Tepper’s train of thought. A topic that was discussed by Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk during his recent appearance on 93.7 The Fan.

Florio touted the possibility of the Panthers calling the Pittsburgh Steelers regarding the availability of Mike Tomlin, who brings his team to Bank of America Stadium in Week 15 for what promises to be another fascinating matchup.

When asked about the possibility, Florio said he wouldn’t be shocked if Tomlin ended up in Carolina. Although there’s been no indication one way or another whether the team is contemplating this move once permitted.

"“(David) Tepper is going to do what he can to find himself a great coach. I don’t think teams do it enough when they trade their coach to another team, it’s only happened a couple of times over the last decade. Maybe Tomlin to Carolina. I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens.”"

This would send shockwaves across the NFL. But what would the Panthers have to give up for Tomlin in this scenario?

Although Tomlin is staring down his first-ever losing season – the first since Ben Roethlisberger retired – he’s still highly respected in league circles. And it would be incredibly harsh if the Steelers cut bait with their coach at the first sign of trouble.

If the Panthers did come calling, they’d have absolutely no leverage given how revered Tomlin is and the loyalty normally associated with the Rooney family toward Pittsburgh’s coaches throughout their time in ownership.

This would likely be a first-round pick and much more. One would also expect a substantial financial package coming the Steelers’ way to further sweeten the deal.

And even that might not be enough.

Much like the situation with Sean Payton, trading for a coach with proven credentials isn’t going to be easy, or cheap for that matter. And the Panthers have too many holes to be sacrificing valuable draft capital no matter how big of an impact Tomlin could make.

It’s speculation and in all likelihood, a non-starter. There’s also the history surrounding Tomlin and Tepper, who was part of a minority ownership group that reportedly wanted a change within the Steelers once upon a time.

Tomlin’s earned the right to determine his own future. And the Panthers should not overlook the impression made by Wilks since taking over from Rhule.

Where Tepper is concerned, nothing can be ruled out. But there are too many obstacles to overcome before this bombshell scenario even gets started.