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What the Matthew Stafford trade means for the Panthers

I have good news and bad news

Carolina Panthers v Houston Texans
“That’s the team I want to play for!” -Deshaun Watson, probably
Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Much of the football world awoke on what used to be Pro Bowl Sunday to the bombshell news that Matthew Stafford had been traded to the LA Rams. The total trade involved the Rams getting Stafford and the Detroit Lions getting Jared Goff, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick, and a 2021 third-round pick. Quite a haul for the Lions, and very different from what I predicted it would take to land Stafford just five days ago. Now that one of the veteran quarterbacks is off the market, what does this mean for the Carolina Panthers?

The Good News

Since the Lions got Jared Goff in the deal, the chances that they take a quarterback drop dramatically. The amount of money they now owe Goff means they’ll probably give him a legitimate chance to be the guy moving forward. They might still take a quarterback and sit him for a couple of seasons behind Goff, a la Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre, but I find that unlikely. The more likely scenario in my mind is them using their pick to bolster the rest of the roster. Goff’s money will make it hard for them to resign Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones, so we may see one of the top wide receivers go to Detroit instead of one of the top quarterbacks. That would be ideal for Carolina, who drafts right after the Lions, because it makes it more likely that one of the big four quarterbacks — Lawrence, Fields, Wilson, or Lance — falls to pick number eight. Unfortunately, there is the possibility that a quarterback-needy team leapfrogs the Panthers in a trade with Detroit, but let’s not think about that right now.

The Bad News

For those of you, like myself, who fall asleep to visions of Deshaun Watson in black and electric blue, this stings a little bit. Many pundits are saying that the package required to land Watson will now be astronomically high, which makes sense: you’re getting a better, younger quarterback than Stafford, so the price should be higher. The Texans will now likely be looking for the package the Lions got, plus another first-round pick and maybe other assets. I think the Panthers can put together a similar package, though they may not want to pay that price. The Rams sent a veteran potential starting quarterback, two first-rounders, and a third-rounder. The Panthers could start with a similar package and add a first-round pick: Teddy Bridgewater, the eighth pick this year, first-rounders in 2022 and 2023, and a third round pick this year. That’s a steep asking price, but the team could get creative by adding in proven veterans, like Christian McCaffrey, to lower the amount of draft capital needed. The Texans would then be able to draft their future quarterback at 8, let Teddy be a bridge until that guy is ready, and accumulate future picks to build around that rookie quarterback in a couple years. Also keep in mind, part of the reason the Rams sent so many picks was because they essentially bribed the Lions into taking Jared Goff as a salary dump, so the asking price for Watson might not be much higher depending on the other pieces included in the deal.

Overall, as with all things, we’ll have to wait and see how everything plays out. I’m just happy that the Panthers were involved in discussions, a nice change of pace from the previous regimes.