The recipe for great deals in the NFL, and in sports collectively, is equal parts of strategy, strong negotiation skills, luck and risk.
Scott Fitterer and the Carolina Panthers have been heavy-handed on the risk portion of the recipe. In an intensely desperate attempt to build a contender, the Panthers traded wide receiver DJ Moore, their number nine pick in 2023, 2nd round pick in 2023, a 2024 first-round pick, and a 2025 second-round pick to the Chicago Bears for the first pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
The initial reaction to this deal was that the Panthers gave up a lot for a pick who may or may not be a franchise changer. Critics of the deal are saying that Carolina got fleeced, and they have a point. Looking at it from their lens:
- The Panthers will pick CJ Stroud/Bryce Young/Will Levis and they will have no receivers and tight ends to throw to.
- There’s a possibility of landing Lamar Jackson in free agency.
These points are valid. Despite having an off year, Moore was still the Panthers’ best receiver and losing him only magnifies a deficiency in the passing game, since there is already a lack of it at tight end. As far as Jackson is concerned, the Panthers could have, and probably should have, at least explored the possibility of signing him. Jackson is proven, he was an unanimous MVP and he’s 45-16 as a starter – Stroud, Young, etc are not. This move, as risky as it is, could have netted the Panthers Jackson and Moore could have stayed.
As valid as these points and concerns are, the Panthers’ perspective isn’t wrong either. From the Panthers’ point of view:
- The price tag for Jackson is too high and the Ravens would probably match whatever the Panthers would offer.
- Belief that this crop of QBs can make an immediate impact on the franchise.
As good as Jackson is, he has been injury prone and commands a guaranteed deal in the $200 million range. Carolina doesn’t want to offer that to a player who has been out and dealing with various injuries – missing 12 games in two years. The rookie contract for the no.1 pick is $34 Million. It makes sense for Carolina to save as much as possible against the cap and use those resources elsewhere.
As far as finding a receiver…the Panthers aren’t done making moves. There is more than likely a contingency plan in place.
It took a lot of nerve and audacity for Fitterer to make this move. The results will remain to be seen until kickoff.