With Cam Newton’s future undecided, the Panthers are open for trade offers

Charles RobinsonNFL columnist
Yahoo Sports

INDIANAPOLIS — With a new coaching staff in place and a long-term quarterback decision looming, the Carolina Panthers are open for business on the trade market, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Apart from a group of young core players, Panthers general manager Marty Hurney appears willing to field inquiries for the majority of his roster, the sources said.

While that willingness to listen doesn’t necessarily signal a total reboot for the Panthers, it appears the franchise is planning to be aggressive with its re-tooling under new head coach Matt Rhule. That effort is expected to build steam over the next week, as Hurney begins meeting with other teams at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

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As it stands, the Panthers are already being pegged by other franchises as a team that could entertain moving up in the draft if Carolina dials in on one of the top quarterbacks available. With the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins and Los Angeles Chargers all ahead of them in the selection order, the Panthers would likely have to move from their seventh overall pick to the Detroit Lions’ spot at No. 3 to guarantee a shot at a quarterback that isn’t LSU’s Joe Burrow.

While there is still time left to shake up the field, Burrow is the presumptive favorite of the Bengals at No. 1 overall, with the Washington Redskins believed to be locked in on consensus top pass-rusher Chase Young with the second pick.

It’s also too early to rule out an aggressive trade to the top of the draft for Burrow, who has yet to give a firm commitment that he would play for the Bengals if taken by the franchise. Burrow’s passing game coordinator at LSU, Joe Brady, was hired as the Panthers’ offensive coordinator in January.

Cam Newton's future with the Panthers is still very much up in the air, and Carolina could be aggressive in the trade market. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Cam Newton's future with the Panthers is still very much up in the air, and Carolina could be aggressive in the trade market. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Beyond Burrow, three other quarterbacks could ultimately push themselves toward the top of the draft board: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Utah State’s Jordan Love and Oregon’s Justin Herbert.

If the Panthers make a push for a quarterback, it may be hard for them to conceal their motivation in the coming weeks. There continues to be a drumbeat of questions about the future of Cam Newton, who has expressed a desire to play for Rhule but gotten little commitment in return.

Rhule hasn’t spoken about Newton’s future since his introductory news conference in January. Hurney was non-committal at that news conference, stating that the team would go through a process to allow the new staff to get acquainted with Newton as it weighed any decisions.

As for team owner David Tepper, he has repeatedly addressed Newton’s health when speaking to the media, suggesting that the quarterback’s history of injuries could be a factor in long-term plans.

Hurney and Rhule are both expected to address the media this week in Indianapolis.

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