Is No. 1 draft pick debacle the Carolina Panthers' worst embarrassment?

This is scenario is nothing short of disgraceful...

Scott Fitterer
Scott Fitterer / Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
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Is handing over the No. 1 overall selection in the 2024 NFL Draft the Carolina Panthers' biggest-ever personnel embarrassment?

Influential figures looked extremely pleased with themselves when they stuck a trade with the Chicago Bears for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. This came at a cost. It eventually led them to quarterback Bryce Young. But general manager Scott Fitterer boldly claimed the Carolina Panthers didn't plan on picking in the top 10, so it was a price worth paying.

A few short months later, things don't look great.

Carolina Panthers draft dismay could condemn Scott Fitterer

The Panthers have missed wide receiver D.J. Moore considerably. Young hasn't thrived in difficult circumstances. Sunday's shutout loss at the Jacksonville Jaguars means the embarrassment of handing Chicago the top pick in the 2024 draft is confirmed.

It's a comedy show. A complete mismanagement of team affairs. To think this organization was capable of mounting an NFC South title push was nothing short of delusion. That's without considering David Tepper's latest disgrace involving a beverage, petulance, and another pathetic error in judgment.

Carolina Panthers
David Tepper and Scott Fitterer / Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Fitterer shunned the media in the game's immediate aftermath - a trend he's adopted throughout the season. It was left to interim head coach Chris Tabor to discuss his feelings on the matter. He wasn't bothered one way or another based on comments via Sports Illustrated.

"Like I'm not concerned about the Bears' first pick. I'm really not. I'm focused in on what happened today and why did it go wrong. Now what I'm going to do is I have another opportunity to come back -- everybody, the storylines that you want to write, I get all that. But I'm going to stay true to myself on the process, another opportunity, and whatever is written is written. What I have to do as a coach in leading this team at this moment is make sure that we're pros, be a pro, do things right, and be on time and do those things and go through the process to give ourselves a chance. I still have confidence in those guys. As I've always said, coaching is about relationships. I am not going to shortchange those guys, and I think they'll do the same. I'm excited for the opportunity next week."

Chris Tabor via Sports Illustrated

Young might be worth the compensation over time. This isn't an indictment of his talent. It is a damning reason why Fitterer's job should be hanging in the balance when the time for final assessments arrives after Week 18.

This is a poorly constructed roster. Almost every veteran contract the Panthers need to get off comes with significant dead-cap figures attached. Many established stars are out of contract and looking for big money. There is a need to revamp almost every position group in pursuit of better fortunes.

Fitterer's gotten away with it previously given Matt Rhule had the final say in personnel matters. He was complicit, but most fans gave him the benefit of the doubt.

Not anymore.

It's a dubious distinction, but parting ways with the No. 1 pick is - for me - the most embarrassing scenario to ever befall the Panthers. Especially considering how those in power thought they'd pulled off a heist by only parting ways with one first-rounder.

Change is needed. Change is guaranteed. But Tepper's preference to surround himself with yes men and firmly immerse himself in football decisions could mean Fitterer gets a reprieve despite Carolina's failings.

This is a sad scenario, to put it mildly. However, it cannot be ruled out.

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