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Czikk’s take: Another week, more uncertainty in the QB room

Let’s dive into the latest quarterback news surrounding the Panthers

NFL: Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

As another week passes after the NFL draft, once again we’re seeing a torrent of news reports about who the newest member of the Panthers’ quarterback room could be.

The team has a clear need for another quality quarterback to compete and potentially take over the starter’s role. And it’s not the greatest look to still be on the hunt for what could be the leader of your team at this point in the post-draft, post-free agency offseason.

If this season starts off ugly, I wonder if Panthers fans have a real case to demand change early on in the season — like, I mean cleaning house in Week 4 type stuff. Nuclear type stuff.

General manager Scott Fitterer and head coach Matt Rhule put the team in this position heading into June. They knew they needed a quality quarterback and they didn’t get it done during the Deshaun Watson sweepstakes, free agency or the draft. Fitterer and Rhule attacked the offensive line quite well and tried to address quarterback with what little draft capital they had. It was a prudent rather than aggressive draft strategy bur nonetheless still leaves the team in a tight spot.

Again, I hate to play the role of downer for you guys, but at this point I feel like the team owes its fan base better when it comes to the quarterback room.

So let’s dive into the latest news on the quarterback front. First, we’ve got Associated Press reporter Steve Reed filling us in on the Panthers and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield and 49ers gunslinger Jimmy Garoppolo. There remains a big sticking point preventing either of those moves.

Over at the Charlotte Observer, Jonathan M. Alexander reports that Fitterer “wouldn’t completely shut the door on acquiring a veteran quarterback.”

The Panthers had conversations with the Browns during the draft last month, according to two sources with knowledge of those discussions. But those conversations didn’t get far because the two parties couldn’t agree on the right price.

In a trade, Carolina wanted Cleveland to pay the majority of Mayfield’s $18.9 million guaranteed salary, somewhere in the range of $13-14 million. Those conversations stalled and Carolina traded up to get Corral, who was their favorite quarterback in the 2022 draft class, with the 94th pick. They also strongly considered quarterback Sam Howell, even after they drafted Corral, two sources said

Alexander says Fitterer’s drafting of Matt Corral “sent the message to the Browns that Carolina ‘doesn’t need to make a trade.’ And perhaps the Panthers don’t. Perhaps the Browns get desperate and cut him.”

“Discussions with the Browns and other teams will likely continue, but the Panthers are more likely to wait until the Browns potentially cut Mayfield to pick him up,” added Alexander.

And as for Garoppolo? The former Brady backup’s recent shoulder surgery, as well as his injury history, “is a far greater concern for some within the organization. The Panthers want no part of his $26.9 million salary, and the 49ers haven’t shown a willingness to take to carry those payments in a trade.”

The Panthers are open to signing quarterback Cam Newton, says Alexander, but Newton would have to agree to a smaller salary.

Back to Fitterer, here’s what he recently said about his thin quarterback room:

“You owe it to the guys in this locker room, though, to play whoever we think gives us the best chance to win,” the general manager said earlier this month at rookie minicamp. “As we sit here today, there’s no question right now that Sam Darnold gives us the best chance to win.”

He’s not lying, it’s just not a very optimistic quote to hear from your general manager.

For me, this entire strategy to me just seems poorly thought out. How do you guys see it?