With OTA’s beginning around the NFL this week, teams are going to start pinpointing specific areas they need to address heading into the regular season. While virtually all of the quarterback spots in the league, the Carolina Panthers are one team that could still be on the lookout for an upgrade.
Right now, the Panthers’ starting quarterback is Sam Darnold. The franchise acquired him from the New York Jets last offseason in hopes of him being their long-term starter under center. The team was so confident that they picked up his fifth-year option.
That proved to be a mistake. After a hot start to the season, Darnold regressed and looked like the same quarterback he was with the Jets. He completed less than 60 percent of his passes and threw more interceptions than touchdowns.
Moving on from Darnold is something that the Panthers would assuredly love to do, but the options are limited. But, there are still two quarterbacks they are showing interest in; Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns and Jimmy Garoppolo of the San Francisco 49ers.
Mayfield has been put in a tough spot with the Browns, who acquired Deshaun Watson from the Houston Texans earlier this offseason. The relationship is beyond repair, as Mayfield requested a trade and the Browns signed Jacoby Brissett to be Watson’s backup.
Garoppolo’s trade market cratered once he had to undergo surgery this offseason. Rumors have swirled that Trey Lance has not looked great this offseason, which could also play a part in the 49ers not yet trading Garoppolo. There is a chance that he is thrust into action again as San Francisco is legitimate Super Bowl contenders, especially if they can get their passing game on track.
The money that Garoppolo is owed also complicates trade talks, as there aren’t many teams that can fit him into their salary cap. The Panthers, however, are one of the teams that can.
With improved quarterback play, Carolina has a chance to make some noise this season. Their roster has come together and Matt Rhule is on the hot seat to start performing. It would be shocking if he went into the season with Darnold as his starter in what could be a make-or-break campaign.