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Carolina Panthers could look to move up to No. 2 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft

We saw a couple major trades last week, headlined by the San Francisco 49ers moving all the way up to the third pick. It’s possible the Carolina Panthers could follow suit.

Owner David Tepper was among the biggest voices within the Panthers’ organization looking to acquire Deshaun Watson in a trade with the Houston Texans.

Now that Watson’s situation is unsettled due to numerous allegations of sexual assault, the Panthers are going to have to change direction with about a month to go before the 2021 NFL Draft. That could potentially lead to a major trade up to the second selection from No. 8 overall.

“I hear (Jets general manager) Joe Douglas is standing firm and is not interested in trading the second pick. But I believe there could be one team left that is interested in moving up, even at a ridiculous cost. That is Carolina, picking eighth in the first round,” Peter King of Pro Football Talk noted.

Carolina’s potential interest in moving up to the second selection can’t be considered too surprising. Whether the Jets even consider it remains to be seen. Reports following the 49ers’ blockbuster trade up from the 12th pick to No. 3 overall concluded that they didn’t even have conversations with New York about the second pick.

It also must be noted that those close to the situation believe it’s a 90% certainty the Jets move off former top-three pick Sam Darnold in a trade while selecting BYU’s Zach Wilson with the second pick.

With that said, New York could take advantage of desperation on the part of the Carolina Panthers to upgrade from Teddy Bridgewater. Remember, he was offered up with the eighth pick in Matthew Stafford trade talks and has been linked to other teams in deals. The above-mentioned Tepper wants a true franchise guy and seems to be extremely high on Ohio State’s Justin Fields.

Read More: 2021 NFL mock draft: Crazy trades spark historic run on QBs, more big surprises

What would it take for the Carolina Panthers to move up?

Could the Carolina Panthers move up to the second pick for Zach Wilson?
Oct 24, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU quarterback Zach Wilson (1) looks down field in the first half during an NCAA college football game against Texas State Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY NETWORK

Things changed on a dime following the 49ers-Dolphins blockbuster Friday afternoon. It’s now a foregone conclusion quarterbacks will go with the top-three picks in the draft. The Atlanta Falcons, selecting fourth overall, could also entertain trade-down scenarios. This has put Carolina behind the proverbial eight-ball.

One might conclude that Carolina would simply look to move up to four. That’s unless the team is targeting a specific player. Perhaps, the above-mentioned Fields. While there’s a smokescreen out there suggesting San Francisco could shock everyone and go with Alabama’s Mac Jones, the likelier scenario is that it moved up for either Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance.

Read More: NFL Draft rumors: Latest news and information leading up to the annual event

What does this all mean? If Douglas and the Jets do a 180 and decide to keep Sam Darnold for another season, there’s going to be a bidding war to get ahead of the 49ers. King suggested Carolina’s first-round pick this year (eighth overall) as well as first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.

This seems like a mighty high price for the Carolina Panthers to pay. It also might be hard for the Jets to trade down. However, the multitude of blockbuster trades late last week leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft in late April changed the dynamics in a big way. If David Tepper wants his guy, no matter who it is, he’s going to have to pay the piper.