Panthers 'Very Open' to Trading Back from No. 8 Pick in 2021 NFL Draft, GM Says

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVApril 23, 2021

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 13: Detail photo of a Carolina Panthers helmet during their game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Bank of America Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Las Vegas won 34-30. (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers are willing to listen to offers for their No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft.

According to ESPN's David Newton, Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said Friday during a Zoom call with the media that he is "very open" to moving back in the first round.

Newton added that the Panthers have spoken to "at least five teams" about potentially trading back.

The Panthers are in an intriguing spot in that they could select a player from almost any position at eighth overall, including quarterback.

Taking a quarterback may not be high on the team's agenda, though, as it acquired Sam Darnold from the New York Jets this offseason and still has veteran signal-caller Teddy Bridgewater on the roster as well.

It is entirely possible that each of the top five quarterbacks in the draft—Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones—could be off the board by the time the No. 8 pick rolls around, meaning the Panthers or a team that acquires the selection would almost have their pick of the litter at other positions.

Among the players who would fill a need for the Panthers could possibly be available at No. 8 are Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell, Northwestern offensive tackle Rashawn Slater, Penn State linebacker Micah Parsons and Alabama cornerback Patrick Surtain II.

Pitts is likely the most exciting prospect of that group, but it may be something of a long shot for him to fall outside the top five given how much hype there is around him.

If the Panthers aren't enthralled with any of the options at No. 8, trading down could be a smart move, as it would allow them to build a treasure trove of draft picks and fill multiple holes in this year's draft.

Carolina is coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons, but there is reason for optimism since the Panthers have a superstar running back in Christian McCaffrey, a quarterback with potential in Darnold and a young, talented defense that should only get better.

If the Panthers can add multiple quality starters in this year's draft, it could help them take a big step toward playoff contention under head coach Matt Rhule.