The Carolina Panthers just missed winning the NFC South and making the playoffs in 2022, and it is a team in the rebuilding phase. During a season that saw them finish with a 7-10 record, the Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule, traded star running back Christian McCaffrey, traded one of their top wide receivers in Chosen Anderson (formerly known as Robbie Anderson), and traded quarterback Baker Mayfield. So the team is missing a few links needed to change the direction of the franchise.
This offseason, the Panthers have hired Frank Reich as their head coach. They also have signed wide receiver Adam Thielen, running back Miles Sanders and tight end Hayden Hurst on offense, and signed safety Vonn Bell and nose tackle Shy Tuttle on defense. But quarterbacks Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker have both departed from the team, leaving them with 2022 third-round pick Matt Corral and recently signed Andy Dalton as the only quarterbacks on their roster.
However, the biggest move the Panthers have made this offseason was acquiring the No. 1 overall pick from the Chicago Bears, sending the Bears the ninth overall pick, a first-round pick in 2024, a second-round pick in this year's draft and the 2025 draft, and wide receiver D.J. Moore. And with so much buzz surrounding the quarterback position in this year's draft, one can only think that the Panthers are looking to get their franchise quarterback sooner rather than later — right?
Well, that is what you would think. But they have a young quarterback whom they drafted last year who had first-round grades by some scouts and a veteran quarterback who had a 95 QB rating last year and completed 66% of his passes. So, what if the Panthers wanted to rely on those two guys this year and trade the No. 1 overall pick to re-up on some draft picks and potentially go all in, if need be, on the top quarterbacks in the 2024 NFL Draft?
That is a strong possibility, and a few teams could be in the sweepstakes to acquire that No. 1 overall pick.
Indianapolis Colts - The Favorite
The Indianapolis Colts currently sit at the No. 4 spot in the draft. But they have division rival Houston sitting in front of them, along with the Panthers (or potentially another team) sitting at No. 1, which means the Colts might end up with their third choice at quarterback. And from the coaching staff to the GM and to the owner, the Colts have expressed their desire and need to get a young quarterback. The fourth overall pick and most likely a first-rounder next season would be a great trade bargain as well.
Houston Texans - The Smarter Choice
The Houston Texans are sitting comfortably at the second overall spot in the 2023 NFL Draft, but the pressure of the Colts potentially trading up to the only pick ahead of them could force the Texans to make a move themselves to make sure they get their guy and franchise quarterback. The Texans have another first-rounder this year, an early second-rounder and two first-rounders in 2024, meaning they have the most to offer in terms of trade compensation without giving up too much.
Tennessee Titans - The Dark Horse
The Tennessee Titans seem to be heading into a rebuilding phase of their own. The Titans need a change at quarterback, as Ryan Tannehill is getting older and has proved that he just is not the type of quarterback who can take over a game with his arm. You could argue that the Titans are just a quarterback upgrade away from getting back into both playoff and Super Bowl contention. The 11th overall pick would put the Panthers two spots from where they were originally (ninth). So there will be some good compensation for them to trade back, which could include multiple first-round picks, a second-round pick and maybe even a player.
Washington Commanders - The Long Shot
The Washington Commanders have a good receiving corps and a very underrated defense but have seen too much inconsistent play over the last two seasons. They have brought in veteran quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has seen success everywhere he has played and would be a great veteran for a rookie to learn from. However, the Commanders are not loaded with draft picks; and with all the investigations involving owner Dan Snyder, they may just remain content and not make any calls for the first overall pick.
Atlanta Falcons - The No Shot
Honestly, I do not see this happening, as you would never trade the No. 1 overall pick to a division rival. But I am sure the Atlanta Falcons have or will make calls to change the direction of their franchise.