The Carolina Panthers boast a mere six picks in the coming 2022 NFL Draft after last year’s ill-fated trade for quarterback Sam Darnold. That includes the No. 6 overall selection in the annual event.
It now looks like general manager Scott Fitterer has a plan to acquire more draft capital. According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Carolina is among the teams looking to move outside of the top 10 for more draft capital. It is joined by several other teams with many viewing the depth of the 2022 NFL Draft as a strength.
“The drumbeat of teams looking to move down in the first round is strong, and it’s at multiple levels of the round, and getting louder as we get closer to the draft. The Jets, Panthers, Giants and Commanders have all engaged teams below them to at least inquire about moving down (and in some cases, way down) from the upper reaches of the round, in an effort to add picks in a year when the draft’s strength is outside the first round.”Albert Breer on Carolina Panthers draft plans
Related: 7-round Carolina Panthers mock draft
Carolina Panthers draft picks 2022
- 1st round: 6th overall
- 4th round: 105th overall
- 5th round: 142nd overall, 147th overall
- 6th round: 199th overall
- 7th round: 220th overall
Coming off a sorely disappointing five-win season, there’s pressure on both Fitterer and embattled head coach Matt Rhule to produce results in 2022. Rather than potentially reaching for a quarterback in a class that’s seen as weak at that position with the sixth pick, Carolina could trade down to later in the first round while accumulating more draft capital and finding a signal caller of the future.
Related: Ranking 2022 NFL Draft quarterbacks
Mixed reports on Carolina Panthers draft plans
It was noted this past week that NFL teams are convinced the Panthers will take a quarterback with the sixth pick. The likeliest options there are Liberty’s Malik Willis and Kenny Pickett from Pittsburgh. If the Panthers were to move down, Desmond Ridder (Cincinnati) could make sense.
All of this comes amid reports that the Panthers have put Baker Mayfield trade talks on hold with the Cleveland Browns as the team continues to do its homework on San Francisco 49ers signal caller Jimmy Garoppolo.
The situation is seemingly rather obvious. Just over a calendar year after trading for the aforementioend Darnold, Carolina’s brass does not see him as the long-term solution under center.
- Sam Darnold stats (2021): 60% completion, 2,527 yards, 9 TD, 13 INT, 71.9 QB rating
That’s just laughably bad. Unfortunately, Carolina also picked up the fifth-year option on Darnold’s rookie deal ($18.86 milllion cost). Short of another team like San Francisco taking on said deal in a trade consisting of Garoppolo heading to the Panthers, this team is likely stuck with Darnold on the roster.
Both Mayfield and Garoppolo would be seen as an instant upgrade for the Panthers. However, the team must weigh said upgrade with the financial impact of bringing in one of these veterans. Mayfield is set to count the same $18.86 million against the cap as Darnold in 2022 with Garoppolo’s cap hit for an acquiring team coming in at a healthy $25.5 million.
All of this is to say we have no idea what’s going to happen with the Carolina Panthers once the draft starts Thursday evening. With that said, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they engaged with other teams while they are on the clock with the sixth pick.