How Jimmy Garoppolo trade could be impacted by Panthers' NFL draft decision

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What Panthers do at No. 6 could open, shut door on Jimmy G trade originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 2022 NFL Draft is just over two weeks away and Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the 49ers' roster, recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

It's likely Garoppolo will remain a 49er well into the summer, as he won't be cleared to throw until late-June or early-July. But what happens April 28 could either open the door for Garoppolo to be traded or further shut the door on the 49ers being able to find a deal this offseason.

The Carolina Panthers currently are one of the two teams with an obvious need at quarterback, with the Seattle Seahawks being the other. With a potential deal with division rival Seattle seeming unlikely, the Panthers, at the moment, seem to be the 49ers' last and only hope of offloading Garoppolo this offseason.

Carolina owns the No. 6 pick in the draft and has massive needs both for a franchise quarterback and an offensive tackle. Last week, the Panthers hosted the top six quarterbacks for pre-draft visits and reportedly had North Carolina's Sam Howell back in Monday for a local workout. The Panthers also will have top tackles Ickey Ekwonu and Charles Cross in for visits, according to Albert Breer of The MMQB.

If the Panthers -- who don't have another pick until the fourth round -- use the No. 6 overall pick on one of the top tackles and pass on drafting a franchise quarterback, it could make them more interested in trading for Garoppolo.

Head coach Matt Rhule's seat is warming by the minute. Entering the 2022 season with Sam Darnold and a rookie on the QB depth chart and a hole at tackle is a recipe for disaster. Shoring up the offensive line and bringing in a reliable, slightly above average quarterback in Garoppolo could help the Panthers stabilize and get back on the right trajectory. Then, Carolina can look to the more-loaded 2023 draft for a long-term answer at quarterback.

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However, if the Panthers swing for the fences and roll the dice on Malik Willis, Kenny Pickett, or Desmond Ridder at No. 6, they no longer will have a need for Garoppolo.

On Sunday, ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported the Panthers have "done their homework" on Garoppolo. Baker Mayfield also remains on the trade block, and Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported Carolina has the "inside track" to acquire Mayfield from the Browns.

The bottom line is that the trade market for Garoppolo is just about barren. Perhaps an injury occurs in training camp and a team is desperate for a veteran signal-caller. Maybe the Panthers draft an elite tackle and decide acquiring Garoppolo benefits them in the short term.

The 49ers have said they won't cut Garoppolo and they won't give him away. Coach Kyle Shanahan has telegraphed his desire to start Trey Lance and trade Garoppolo for something that makes the 49ers better. Carolina could offer a 2023 mid-round pick for Garoppolo, and that could make both sides happy.

But that's only if the Panthers don't go all-in on a QB in Round 1. If they do, the 49ers very well could be out of trade options for Garoppolo.

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