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3 best Carolina Panthers quarterback options after plethora of trades

The Carolina Panthers’ quarterback situation remains highly unsettled after they entered the NFL offseason with an obvious need to upgrade over Teddy Bridgewater.

It’s not for a lack of effort on the part of new general manager Scott Fitterer. Carolina offered up the eighth pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and Bridgewater for Matthew Stafford before the longtime Detroit Lions quarterback was shipped off to the Los Angeles Rams.

The Panthers have also been one of the teams bandied about the most when it comes to a Deshaun Watson trade. That is now firmly up in the air after troubling allegations of sexual assault levied in the quarterback’s direction.

Meanwhile, Carolina is now behind the proverbial eight-ball when it comes to finding a potential franchise quarterback after the San Francisco 49ers traded up from the 12th selection to No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. Right now, three quarterbacks are expected to go with the top-three picks.

Now that we know owner David Tepper is in desperate need of a franchise-type signal caller and with various markets dwindling, let’s look at the three-best Carolina Panthers quarterback options moving forward.

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Carolina Panthers trade up with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2021 NFL Draft

Carolina Panthers trade up for Mac Jones
Jan 28, 2021; Mobile, Alabama, USA; American quarterback Mac Jones of Alabama (10) drills during American practice at Hancock Whitney Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

It looks like Carolina’s division rival in that of the Atlanta Falcons are angling for a quarterback with the fourth pick in April’s draft. Even if this is a way for Atlanta to up the ante in a potential trade down with a quarterback-needy team, the Panthers would have to pay a premium to pry that selection from an NFC South foe. The cost would likely be two future first-round selections as well as the eighth pick. It’s not happening.

Rather, Carolina looks to the Cincinnati Bengals with the fifth pick. Boasting franchise quarterback Joe Burrow, Cincinnati has no need at this position. It is also said to be looking for a wide receiver to pair up with Burrow. If so, moving down a few slots in the top 10 for a future first-round pick could make sense.

From Carolina’s perspective, this wouldn’t be an ideal scenario. Assuming Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are the first two quarterbacks off the board and San Francisco joins Atlanta in going quarterback, the Panthers would be forced to go with the fifth option. That list includes Justin Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones. Desperation calls for desperate dealings.

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Carolina Panthers make a trade for Jimmy Garoppolo

Carolina Panthers trade for Jimmy Garoppolo
Nov 1, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) exits the locker room before pregame warmups against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

This would not solve the Panthers’ long-term issues at quarterback. However, it would give the team a major upgrade over Bridgewater under center for at least one season as Carolina resets its search for a franchise signal caller. Garoppolo’s 2019 season was better than anything we’ve seen from Bridgewater throughout his career. It’s not really that close.

It would also be a somewhat cheap swap. San Francisco wants its unnamed rookie to learn behind a veteran for a season. Bridgewater could be that proverbial bridge (pun intended). In turn, the Panthers offer up their second-round pick (39th) overall to upgrade over the short-term. It also must be noted that Bridgewater was linked to San Francisco earlier in the offseason.

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Carolina Panthers hold firm with Teddy Bridgewater

At this point, the trade market will not offer Carolina an upgrade over Bridgewater short of the team prying Garoppolo from San Francisco. He remains a better option than the likes of Gardner Minshew and Sam Darnold. That’s really not debatable right now.

Instead of making a panic move, Carolina opts to go with Bridgewater for one more season. Perhaps, the team acquires a project in the mid rounds. Heck, it could wait and see if the Deshaun Watson situation settles itself later in the offseason and pull a blockbuster trade at that point. Right now, Bridgewater might actually be the Panthers’ best short-term option.