The Carolina Panthers aren’t just in NFL Draft and free-agency season. It’s NFL trade season, too. And in the 2023 NFL offseason, a Panthers trade for the No. 1 pick is already the biggest blockbuster. Now the team needs to make one more deal and get an additional mid-round pick for quarterback Matt Corral.
The Panthers trade quarterback Matt Corral to the highest bidder
The 2022 NFL Draft featured one of the worst quarterback classes in recent memory.
Pittsburgh Steelers signal-caller Kenny Pickett was the only QB to go in Round 1, and the next three off the board didn’t come until Round 3, with Desmond Ridder (Atlanta Falcons), Malik Willis (Tennessee Titans), and Matt Corral going to the Panthers.
After that, the quarterbacks that followed included Bailey Zappe (New England Patriots) in Round 4 and Sam Howell (Washington Commanders) in Round 5.
The most successful rookie QB was the last pick of the entire draft, San Francisco 49er’s “Mr. Irrelevant,” Brock Purdy. Seventh-round selection of the Miami Dolphins, Skylar Thompson, also acquitted himself better than the QBs that went in the first three rounds.
Despite the Panthers burning through four quarterbacks last season (Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, P.J. Walker, and Jacob Eason), Corral didn’t step on the field.
And if there was any doubt remaining that the former Ole Miss QB isn’t the Panthers quarterback of the future, the team made the biggest NFL trade of the 2023 NFL offseason with the Chicago Bears to move up to the No. 1 pick with the intention of drafting a QB.
With the draft about a month away, it looks like C.J. Stroud from Ohio State is the most likely selection. If not, though, Bryce Young from Alabama or Anthony Richardson from Florida could be in the mix as well.
Ideally, after the big Panthers trade, whoever the team picks will start Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season. If not, though, Carolina has a backup plan. The team signed veteran signal-caller Andy Dalton to be the experienced backup or early-season starter if necessary. Additionally, Eason, a quality third-stringer, is also on the roster still.
This leaves Matt Corral as the odd man out.
The Panthers need to start scouring the NFL trade market for potential places to send the young QB. Corral is not ready to start in the league, but he’s still young (24) and has some potential. And teams around the league are always looking for the next starting QB.
Ideally, a Panthers trade partner will have a solid veteran quarterback who will start this season as the team develops Corral. Teams like this include rosters with good quarterbacks but not franchise ones. Those are the teams that the Panthers may be able to extract a fourth- or fifth-round pick from.
And if there is interest from multiple teams, maybe Carolina can even get a bidding war going to bump it up to a third-round selection and recoup what they spent on Corral last season.
The best teams to target are the Los Angeles Rams, Las Vegas Raiders, Seattle Seahawks, or New Orleans Saints. All these teams have veteran signal-callers who likely only have two to three years, max left in them. If Corral can spend a year or two learning from Matthew Stafford, Jimmy Garoppolo, Geno Smith, or Derek Carr it could aid in his development.
The biggest issue a Panthers trade of Matt Corral will face this NFL offseason is that the team that initially took him in the NFL draft gave up on him so quickly. Pretty much all of Corral’s Class of 2022-mates are all either starting (Kenny Pickett, Brock Purdy), on track to start next season (Desmond Ridder, Sam Howell) or are still considered solid prospects who their teams value in the long term (Skylar Thompson, Bailey Zappe, Malik Willis).
Corral doesn’t fit into any of those groups, at least for the Panthers.
That doesn’t mean that no team values him as a potential long-term project. The trick for finding the right Panthers trade is finding two teams that do and getting a third-round pick from the franchise that wants him more.
In the end, a fifth-rounder would be a little disappointing but ultimately fine. A fourth-round pick would be a win for the Panthers, and restoring the third-round pick they used on Matt Corral would be huge. That would get a potential starter at another position in the door, which is critical for Carolina as they try to build around their new No. 1 pick.
The Panthers have shown a willingness to trade anyone in the last calendar year, shipping out superstars Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore. Now they must hit the NFL trade market one more time and see what they can get for Matt Corral.
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