Trade or 2021 NFL Draft- What Should the Carolina Panthers Focus on This Year?

Published 03/09/2021, 11:52 AM EST


In his first full season as the Carolina Panthers’ Head Coach, Matt Rhule endured a tough outing in the NFL. The Baylor boss could only manage a 5-11 record as they finished 3rd in the NFC South barely besting the Atlanta Falcons.

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The Panthers were forced to play without star running back Christian McCaffrey for the majority of the season. The 2017 1st-round pick suffered ankle and shoulder injuries.

Despite signing a 4-year $64 million contract extension last year, McCaffrey started just 3 games for the Panthers in 2020.

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Oct 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) escapes from New Orleans Saints defensive end Marcus Davenport (92) during the first quarter at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Former Minnesota Vikings and New Orleans Saints quarterback Teddy Bridgewater also endured a sub-par debut with the Panthers last year. He threw for 3,733 yards with 15 passing TDs but is not a guaranteed starter for Carolina.

But what does that mean for coach Rhule and the Panthers as they look at potential quarterback options this summer?

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Zach or Russell Wilson, who will start for Carolina Panthers in 2021?

As things stand, there are a number of quarterbacks in the free agent pool to choose from. The likes of Mitchell Trubisky, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Alex Smith, and others can serve as potential backups to the misfiring Bridgewater.

A trade deal for big-name stars like Russell Wilson, Deshaun Watson, or even Sam Darnold will not come cheap for the Panthers.

The best option for them will be to pursue one of the young stars available at the 2021 NFL Draft. The Panthers own the 8th overall pick in this year’s draft. They can still manage to draft someone like Zach Wilson, Mac Jones, or Kyle Trask.

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Jan 1, 2021; New Orleans, LA, USA; Ohio State Buckeyes quarterback Justin Fields (1) celebrates after a touchdown pass against the Clemson Tigers during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Another possible scenario can see the Panthers trade up in the draft to bring in someone like Justin Fields or Trey Lance who are tipped to be potential Top-3 picks.

It must be noted that Teddy Bridgewater can still be offered a second lease on life in Carolina. The 28-year-old signed a 3-year deal worth $63 million in 2020.

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The Panthers could end up using their 8th overall pick to draft a strong wide receiver like De’Vonta Smith or Ja’Marr Chase. But if that doesn’t work out, teams like Miami Dolphins and San Francisco 49ers could move in for Bridgewater on a potential trade deal.

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Daniel Arambur

1857 articles

Daniel Arambur is an NFL writer and content strategist for EssentiallySports.With more than 1,000 articles, he is one of the senior writers in the NFL cohort at ES. A mass media graduate from the University of Mumbai, Daniel has found the perfect blend of vocation and passion in the sports content niche.

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