The Carolina Panthers had the weekend off following their 0-6 start. It remains to be seen how active the Panthers will be over the nine days between their bye and the Oct. 31 trade deadline.
The team has been privately putting out word they are not in fire-sale mode, as it was last year when Carolina moved on from Robbie (Anderson) Chosen and then dealt running back Christian McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers in a blockbuster trade before the deadline.
The Athletic’s Dianna Russini reported the Panthers have been actively calling other teams as both buyers and sellers. But given their record and paucity of draft picks, they should be leaning heavily toward the sell side.
They do seem intent on giving rookie quarterback Bryce Young another weapon that could further help the development of the first overall pick. But it’s unlikely to be a No. 1 receiver because A) teams aren’t usually inclined to trade them, and B) the Panthers lack the draft capital to swing such a deal.
So while it wouldn’t be surprising to see general manager Scott Fitterer acquire a wideout via trade or a veteran free-agent signing — soon-to-be, 34-year-old T.Y. Hilton has ties to Frank Reich — we’ll focus on players who could be traded out of Carolina for the purposes of this exercise.
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The Panthers held on to their Pro Bowl pass rusher at the deadline last year, passing on the Los Angeles Rams’ offer of two future first-round picks and a third. In the 12 months since then, the team has failed to sign Brian Burns to a long-term extension and there’s been no indication the Panthers are any closer to meeting Burns’ demands to join the league’s highest-paid edge rushers.
After holding in before Week 1, Burns played like he had something to prove with a two-sack performance in the opener at Atlanta. But he had only two sacks over the next five games after saying he was putting contract talks on hold during the season.
The Panthers missed their chance to get a massive haul for Burns, but they could potentially replace the 2024 first-round pick they gave up to get in position for Young by moving Burns to a contending team. The sense is the Panthers again will hang on to Burns, who’s shown signs of frustration amid another losing season and could try to force the issue.
The 28-year-old Donte Jackson hasn’t played a full season since he was a rookie in 2018. He’s missed one game with a shoulder injury this season. But even when he’s been healthy, Jackson has had issues in coverage, most recently against Miami Dolphins speed freak Tyreek Hill. As The Athletic reported Friday, the Panthers have reached out to teams to gauge the interest in Jackson, who probably would only bring a mid-round pick in return.
With the Panthers hopeful to have Jaycee Horn back at some point after the bye, the Panthers could move Jackson and roll with undrafted rookie D’Shawn Jamison and veteran Troy Hill, who had a pick-six late in last week’s loss at Miami.
After Jackson signed a three-year, $35.2 million contract in 2022 and then restructured it, his base salary this year is only $1.09 million. The Panthers would eat about $15 million in dead money if they move on from him.
With Reich’s history of involving the tight ends in the passing game and Hayden Hurst’s track record as a receiver, this seemed like a perfect marriage when the Panthers signed the 30-year-old to a three-year, $21.75 million deal during free agency. But Hurst has only been a bit player in the offense, at least when Reich was calling plays.
Hurst caught five passes (on seven targets) for 41 yards and a touchdown at Atlanta in Week 1, but has gotten three targets in each of the past five games. Miami is a contending team that could use a receiving tight end. But with the Panthers putting Ian Thomas on injured reserve with a calf injury before the bye, they may have to keep Hurst and see if he’s a better fit with Thomas Brown as the play caller.
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The Panthers’ second-round pick from 2020 was on the field for nearly every snap during his first three seasons in Carolina but has seen his role shrink significantly in Ejiro Evero’s scheme. Jeremy Chinn, 25, has been in for just 52.2 percent of the defensive reps while lining up primarily as the big nickel.
The Panthers are open to trading Chinn, but that became a much tougher proposition after he injured his quad early in the Miami game. Chinn could miss as many as six weeks, though could be back sooner, according to a league source with knowledge of the injury. Teams with a need at safety — reportedly the Philadelphia Eagles and perhaps the Washington Commanders, whose GM Marty Hurney was in Carolina when Chinn was drafted — would really have to like Chinn to trade for him while injured.
Like a couple of the guys listed above, Terrace Marshall has seen his role steadily decrease to the point of practically vanishing during Year 1 of Reich’s tenure. The Panthers have given the third-year receiver permission to seek a trade, and would seemingly be willing to take whatever they could get for a player Fitterer and Matt Rhule drafted in the second round in 2021.
Marshall caught a career-high nine passes (on 10 targets) — most of them at or near the line of scrimmage — during a Week 4 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Then Marshall didn’t get in the game the following week at Detroit.
Reich’s staff clearly doesn’t see much upside in Marshall, even on a rebuilding team. So if the Panthers have to structure a deal that includes a swap of late-round picks along with Marshall, they should do it.
(Top photo of Brian Burns: Perry Nott / Getty Images)
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