The Carolina Panthers haven’t been quiet about their desire to upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater this offseason. After striking out on a Matthew Stafford trade and being outbid by the San Francisco 49ers for the No. 3 pick, Carolina’s effort to find a franchise star remains strong.
From the moment team owner David Tepper took over the club, he has wanted to reshape the team’s identity. Carolina made an aggressive hire with head coach Matt Rhule and the move paid off. A year later, Tepper has that same mindset as the team explores its options at quarterback.
The Panthers were the most aggressive team pursuing a Deshaun Watson trade, but the ongoing investigation into sexual assault allegations has delayed any potential deal. Now, the front office is making a strong push to land their star signal-caller before the 2021 NFL Draft.
Dan Patrick reported on his show this week that the Panthers are still making a push to trade up. While it isn’t known which quarterback the team is targeting, Carolina has explored moves for the No. 2 pick and is also looking into ways to climb into the top-five picks.
The 49ers certainly didn’t make things any easier for Carolina. While the Panthers have a higher pick (No. 8 overall), San Francisco traded two future first-round picks and a third-round selection to climb from the 12th pick to No. 3 overall. No matter where Carolina tries to climb up to within the top-five picks, it’s almost certainly going to cost No. 8 overall and a 2022 first-round pick.
Given how aggressive the Panthers were for Stafford and Watson, trading up before draft day is very possible. But if the team decides the cost is too high, it might have a fallback plan.
Sam Darnold an option for Carolina Panthers
Patrick also reported that a Sam Darnold trade is an option for Carolina. The Panthers are reportedly interested in the former No. 3 overall pick and could view him as a fallback option if a trade-up doesn’t come to fruition.
The New York Jets aren’t having much luck on the trade front. When the offseason began, general manager Joe Douglas wanted a second-round pick and a Day 3 selection for his young quarterback. No team was willing to meet that asking price and the list of suitors quickly diminished. After a frenzy of deals, things have looked bad for New York.
At this point, the jets are reportedly willing to settle for just a third-round pick in return. While it would be a massive loss in their investment of a No. 3 overall pick, New York is recognizing that he isn’t the long-term answer for them. Thus, a trade feels inevitable.
The Panthers might be able to get Darnold for even cheaper. If it’s Day 2 of the NFL Draft and the Jets aren’t getting any bites on Darnold, Carolina could offer its fourth-round pick (113th overall) and a sixth-round pick (222nd overall).
If a change of scenery and a great supporting cast turns Darnold into the player many scouts thought he could become, the Panthers have their franchise quarterback. If it doesn’t work out, they can make a run at a Russell Wilson or Aaron Rodgers trade in the 2022 offseason.