I do not tend to write posts or comment that much, but having seen the article discussing a possible Stewart and Nicks swap before the trade deadline made me feel obliged to chime in.
I will not waste my time in explaining why trading away Stewart makes no sense at this point fiscally for the Panthers (this is done very well in this article by Catscratchreader superstar James Dator). What I would like to bring to everyone's attention instead is that Stewart, a former first round pick, is extremely talented, and what's more, he is only 26 yeard old, and has not yet been a workhorse RB in his career, meaning that he probably has at least 5 more productive years in the NFL. Granted, he needs to stay healthy, but there is no reason to think he can't.
Trading for Nicks makes no sense for one main reason, which is cap space. He will demand at least 8 million a year, and frankly has not shown the production to garner that kind of cash from a Panthers team that Dave Gettleman has had to work very hard to turn around in terms of cap space since his tenure began.
Carolina is finally winning and it is fantastic. What's the reason? Sure, Cam is playing well, but it is the quietly swarming and dominant defense that is winning Carolina games, and this starts with the front 7. Greg Hardy grades out as the 5th best 4-3 Defensive End in the NFL, and is in a contract year. He is asking for alot of money, but it is to be expected when his fellow teammate is being payed 12 million a year doing the same job as him. I hope Charles Johnson can take a small pay cut to open up some cap space, and if he does, then the Panthers would be very smart to make resigning Greg Hardy a number 1 priority. As the famous saying goes, "If it aint broke, don't fix it" (I don't know if that's a recognized thing in the States I was brought up in London England so I apologize if you're sitting there like "what the fuck is that saying". Anyway... the bright spot for this team outside Cam is its ferocious front seven, and Gettleman is savvy enough to realise that.
So here would be my thinking: Deangelo Williams is the dreaded age of 30 for RBs. He isn't showing it yet which is great for the Panthers, but ultimately, there is truth to the point that after 30 a running back begins to show some wear from the years of punishment. Maybe he will last another 3 years, but I actually doubt it. What needs to be remembered is that from one season to the next, an RB can lose their speed and explosiveness VERY quickly, (ala Steven Jackson or Ladanian Tomlinson). Deangelo is having a great year so far, so why not take advantage of that? With his current production, there are teams in the NFL who would grab him and try and ride him for two to three years. Two teams in particular come to mind: The Dallas Cowboys and the Cleveland Browns. The former's owner/GM/ruiner Jerry Jones has made it quite clear he doesn't like an RB who is injury prone, plus the Cowboys are looking at a division title pretty comfortably at this point, meaning a playoff push is exactly what Jones wants. He is definitely the kind of person to make a spur of the moment decision to trade for Deangelo and send a late round pick in return. As for Cleveland, after trading away Richardson, they sorely need a running game to help the flailing Weeden/Campbell combo that cannot win games on their own. What's more on this trade, is that if the rumous are true, Cleveland have Josh Gordon on the trading block. See where I'm going with this? No? Ok, well I'm saying Carolina sends Deangelo and a late round pick for Gordon, and takes a low risk on a potential superstar. Gordon is exactly the kind of playmaker Cam needs to make the next step and remain consistently in the upper echelon of throwing QBs. What's even better? His contract is smaller than Chudzinski's belly, and won't need to be negotiated for two more years.
If Carolina can grab Gordon, then draft a top class offensive lineman and cornerback in the draft, the Panthers suddenly have a team that has very few holes.
Can Stewart replace Deangelo as the workhorse guy? If he stays healthy, then absolutely. Pair him with big Mike in short yardage situations and sprinklings of Kenjon in change of pace and passing situations, and the running game can be as productive as it is currently, with around 7 million dollars more cap space then before, to maybe make a move in the 2014 free agency market. Deangelo would need to restructure his contract to avoid the large cap hit in a trade, but I see both Jerry Jones and Fatzinski as being desperate enough in their own situations to take his contract on for the short term potential he provides.
Hit me up with comments on what you think. Thanks for reading