3 Realistic Moves That Carolina Panthers Could Make at NFL Trade Deadline
The Carolina Panthers are currently 1-4, and there are many areas that need to be addressed in order to build a perennial playoff team in Charlotte.
In the NFL, championship teams are built through the draft and aided by free agency and trades.
Organizations that depend on trades and free agency to succeed often find themselves picking at the top of the draft year after year.
While the trade deadline is among the most exciting days in the other major American sports, that isn't the case in the NFL.
The Panthers are in bad shape thus far this season, and need to be careful that they don't hurt their future by agreeing to an unfavorable trade during an unfortunate season.
Trade for a Defensive Tackle
The Carolina Panthers are in the league's bottom third in run defense, as they have surrendered an average of 127.4 yards per game.
Defensive tackles Ron Edwards and Dwan Edwards need help in the middle, as neither has been able to control the interior on the defensive line throughout the course of an entire game.
While poor tackling has also contributed to the defensive woes, another big body would, at the very least, keep the interior defensive linemen fresh.
If the Panthers decide to pursue a defensive tackle before the trade deadline, they will do so knowing that it won't be easy to acquire an adequate one.
As mentioned in the introduction, the trade deadline in the NFL is the least active of the major sports.
Organizations that build through the draft tend to be more successful long term, so front offices tend to be very conservative in trade situations.
At 1-4, GM Marty Hurney is in a precarious position because his team faces an uphill battle to qualify for the playoffs this season.
Coming into the season, Carolina's run defense was viewed as an area that could be improved. Through five games, it is clear that the run defense still needs to be improved.
Hurney has to be proactive in improving the teams' run defense, but also can't afford to give up too much for a questionable run-stopper.
The Panthers need a defensive tackle, but Hurney shouldn't offer more than a fourth-round draft pick unless an amazing opportunity presents itself.
Trade for a Free Safety
Haruki Nakamura and Sherrod Martin are the Panthers' free safeties at the moment, but neither man appears to be the long-term answer.
Nakamura earned the starting position coming into the season, but after a horrible performance against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 4, he lost the faith of Panthers fans.
In that game, Nakamura was beat on a handful of big plays and his assignment scored a touchdown and hauled in a miracle reception that gave the Falcons life in the games' final minute.
Safeties are the last line of defense, and the Panthers' duo of safeties is among the least productive in the league.
Starting strong safety Charles Godfrey has had his moments this season, but Nakamura has had a much more difficult time.
The value on safeties isn't as high as the other defensive positions, but that may be a mistake.
GM Marty Hurney should have realized that his team could use a competent free safety and should now investigate his options prior to the trade deadline.
The Panthers need to improve at safety, and acquiring Jacksonville Jaguars' free safety Dwight Lowery for a fair price could help to solve that problem in the short term.
Trade for Another Pass-Rusher
Charles Johnson has been relentless during the 2012 season, but he would be even better if the Panthers had another dominant pass-rusher on the other side.
Through five games, Carolina is tied for 18th in the NFL with 14 sacks. Defensive ends Thomas Keiser, Frank Alexander and Greg Hardy have looked impressive at times, but none of them have proven to be long-term options.
Since they are members of the pass-happy NFC South, it is crucial that the Panthers get adequate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Unfortunately for Marty Hurney, adequate pass-rushers tend to have a high price tags.
The Panthers 2012 season has gotten off to a dreadful start, and it has put Hurney in a very difficult position as the trade deadline draws closer.
Carolina needs to strengthen its pass rush, but that can not come at too high of a price.
Hurney could target players like Dwight Freeney or Tamba Hali, who play for organizations that aren't likely to make a playoff run this season.