When news got out that the Carolina Panthers signed Mike Tolbert in free agency, one of the first questions many pondered was how he fit in with DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Goodson already under contract.
One of the first to bring up that question was ESPN's Pat Yasinskas, who believes that Jonathan Stewart could be shopped around the league and traded.
Coming out of the University of Oregon, the Panthers made Stewart the 13th overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft despite already having DeAngelo Williams on their roster. His combination of size and speed make him an enticing prospect.
Fast forward four years to 2012, and the Panthers have an abundance of ball carriers.
They have Williams, Stewart, Goodson, now Tolbert and even Cam Newton all vying for rushes. There's no way they can satisfy all those players, even if Tolbert was technically introduced as a fullback.
Because of this abundance, one of these players has to go. Stewart is likely the odd man out, as he has trade value going into the final year of his contract, while Williams' contract will scare teams away.
Whereas the Panthers have a plethora of options, the Packers have few.
Left in Green Bay's backfield are Ryan Grant, James Starks, Brandon Saine, Alex Green and John Kuhn. Not very impressive.
Carolina needs to dump a running back. The Packers need to pick one up. So what's it worth to the Packers?
One of the first things to consider is Stewart's contract. Stewart has a base salary of roughly $1.3 million, but bonuses bump his cap number up to around $2.6 million.
Another thing to factor in when considering his contract is that it expires after this year, thus meaning that whoever would trade for Stewart could very well be getting a one-year rental.
His cap hit is not that big of a deal, but his contract length is.
The most important part of a player's value is, of course, his ability. Stewart does not lack ability.
The Carolina committee back rushed for 761 yards averaged 5.4 YPC this past season. Stewart also caught 47 passes for 413 yards, showcasing his pass-catching ability.
He weighs in at a sturdy 5'10", 235 pounds and despite his size runs in the 4.4-4.5 40-yard dash range. His physical tools are outstanding and he's also young, having just turned 25 on March 21.
The Oregon product has shown, albeit in limited time, why he was a first-round pick.
Though he's currently stuck in a committee with DeAngelo Williams, Stewart has all the tools to be a lead NFL back, something the Packers lack right now.
Normally, a player with a chance to become a Top 10 talent at their position would garner a first-round pick. However, his expiring contract and the decreasing importance of the running game in the NFL might drop his trade value some.
Thus, it would be reasonable of the Green Bay Packers to forfeit a second-round pick to acquire Stewart.
Adding a starting-caliber back to an offense that was dominant even without one would take pressure off the Packers' passing game and make the NFL's best offense virtually flawless.
We should soon find out whether the Panthers are shopping Stewart and if they are, the Packers would do themselves a favor to be among the first in line.
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