Panthers Still Eyeing Trade For 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo?

Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers, Panthers, NFL Rumors
NFL Analysis Network

The Carolina Panthers are one of the teams that would seemingly still be open to making a change at the quarterback position this offseason. Sam Darnold did not pan out last season, as he got off to a hot start before regressing back to what we saw during his first three seasons in the NFL with the New York Jets.

Carolina is remaining coy about their intentions, as offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo recently said that Darnold is their starting quarterback. It could all be an elaborate smokescreen, as the NFL Draft is quickly approaching. This is a time for posturing, as teams are angling to put themselves in the best position whether it be to select a specific prospect or get the most they can out of a trade.

The Panthers have the No. 7 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and there is some speculation they could use that pick on one of the quarterback’s in this year’s class. However, given the uncertainty surrounding the players at the position, and head coach Matt Rhule being on the hot seat, he may not want to push his chips into the basket of a rookie quarterback.

That is why Carolina is still being mentioned as a possible landing spot for quarterbacks that have been on the trade market all offseason. One of those quarterbacks is Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers.

According to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, the Panthers have done their homework on Garoppolo. For a coach on the hot seat, it would make a lot of sense to acquire a veteran of Garoppolo’s stature, who has led a team to the NFC Championship Game two out of the last three years, over a rookie that may need time to develop.

“We mentioned the Panthers earlier in relation to [Baker] Mayfield; they’ve done their homework on [Jimmy] Garoppolo too. They’ve looked at all options, and Garoppolo is one. So that’s something to watch for down the road.”

Somewhat quietly, the Panthers have been creating a ton of flexibility when it comes to the salary cap. They now have $30 million in space to use, which would be sufficient to add Garoppolo’s cap number into.

The biggest obstacle is figuring out what Carolina can send to San Francisco. They do not have a second or third-round pick in this year’s draft, as they were traded last year for Darnold and cornerback C.J. Henderson. 

Rhule could dip into future draft capital, but given his uncertain future with the franchise, he may not be given the green light to do so. But, acquiring Garoppolo, who is an upgrade over what we have seen from Darnold, would help get the Panthers back on track and compete for a playoff spot, which they looked destined to do in 2021 before injuries and ineffective quarterback play took over.