In what’s quick turn into a yearly custom, the Panthers are on the lookout for a brand new quarterback. Teddy Bridgewater took over for Cam Newton, Sam Darnold took over for Bridgewater, and now there appears to be some teeth to the idea that Carolina will find a way to trade for or sign Jimmy Garoppolo to take over for Darnold.
The Panthers have emerged as being the final and greatest alternative for Garoppolo this season. They’re a workforce with a dire want at QB, the cap house to soak up his contract, and at the least on the floor it looks as if a pure match. Whilst you can applaud the Panthers for eager to do one thing to get higher, buying and selling or signing Garoppolo appears like one other try to realize pace on a rudderless ship careening in the direction of the rocks.
It’s an advanced mess, as a result of below the veneer of failure, and the movie of filth left by attempting to commerce for Deshaun Watson, the Panthers have really had a very good offseason. GM Scott Fitterer stuffed a lot of Carolina’s most urgent wants in free company with sensible, low-money offers that gives the workforce flexibility for the longer term — whereas retaining two of its greatest younger gamers in receiver D.J. Moore and cornerback Donte Jackson, each of whom agreed to extensions. Reconciling this sensible, secure method with a desperation transfer for a quarterback is the place this all goes off the rails.
A transfer for Garoppolo would present a tacit lack of awareness of who the Panthers are, what they may very well be, and what the longer term route of this workforce is. To make issues worse, it’s coming on the worst potential time. On the again of a 5-11 season, the 2022 NFL Draft is extremely deep at expertise, simply not on the quarterback place. Passers are a weak spot on this class, and whereas I personally consider Malik Willis may become an elite QB, I additionally perceive there’s simply as a lot danger that he may bust.
Sadly for the Panthers, in a draft this deep in addition they lack property. Carolina gave up their 2nd spherical decide as a part of the deal for Sam Darnold, their third rounder went to Jacksonville for C.J. Henderson — and neither participant has panned out. Usually these would have been middling, low-impact offers, however in 2022 these Day 2 picks may very well be tantamount to 2 strong, beginning gamers, relatively than the reclamation tasks they bought in return.
So now we have a nasty workforce, in a draft with out a clear quarterback, with out the property so as to add expertise at a number of positions. It’s a recipe for one more down 12 months, a return to drafting excessive within the Prime 10, and one other reset. That’s what the workforce ought to do with the 2023 NFL Draft already on the horizon, however the entrance workplace appears destined to not settle for that actuality.
Garoppolo would immediately make the Panthers higher. There may be completely little doubt about it. With a returning Christian McCaffrey (assuming he stays wholesome), the inflow of free brokers, and a strong WR corps that couldn’t be utilized by Darnold in 2021, there’s each perception Carolina would take a step ahead — however there’s a particular ceiling in place, too. How a lot better may this workforce actually get with Jimmy G, and what could be acceptable?
Would 8-9 be sufficient? Would 10-7? Is there any mixture of numbers that doesn’t simply end result within the Panthers making the playoffs after which operating into an NFC buzzsaw like Tampa Bay, Los Angeles or San Francisco? I don’t suppose so, and that’s what makes this situation infuriating, due to what could be misplaced in a quest for a one-and-done playoff pyrrhic victory — specifically, the 2023 NFL Draft.
Take a look at different groups across the NFL with a dire want at QB. All of them perceive what’s coming across the nook. The Seahawks are content material taking part in Drew Lock, the Falcons are going to start out Marcus Mariota, the Steelers went with Mitch Trubisky, the Saints re-signed Jameis Winston. Why are these groups, particularly the Seahawks, Steelers and Saints, who’re inherently higher than Carolina, not making a deal for Garoppolo? They know he may make them too good.
The 2023 NFL Draft is the aligning of planets we see occur as soon as each handful of years the place quite a few promising quarterbacks are destined to hit the league on the identical time. It’s conceivable that as many as 5 quarterbacks are taken within the first spherical, with doubtlessly three going within the Prime 5 (Bryce Younger, C.J. Stroud, Spencer Rattler). Including Garoppolo to a 5-11 workforce, because the Panthers may be on the precipice of doing, would take them out of that vary. The one manner again in could be buying and selling appreciable future property to maneuver again right into a place they should be in anyway, and kicking their issues down the highway.
If the Panthers don’t consider in Malik Willis or one of many quarterbacks in 2022, that’s effective. The response to this needs to be to play Sam Darnold, get by means of one other season, and maintain the expectation that they will discover a top-tier QB in a 12 months. Not that they need to rally round a deal for Jimmy Garoppolo, play for a wild card, then get trapped in passer purgatory for one more three years. Garoppolo is the right bridge QB, and he carried out amazingly effectively for the 49ers final 12 months, however with the Panthers it will be like shopping for a bridge, and having no clue the place you’re constructing to, or what could be on the opposite facet.
Getting higher proper now on the expense of the longer term shouldn’t be a luxurious Carolina has. At the least it’s not one in the event that they need to construct sustained success within the NFL. As an alternative it will be one other floundering transfer out of desperation, that hurts the longer term, all within the hopes of incomes a bit fan confidence. It might not be price it in the long term.