The Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers surprised the football world by completing a trade for star running back Christian McCaffrey on Thursday night.
With the deal, the Panthers added a substantial haul of draft picks for 2023 and beyond, and now, their draft inventory looks like this:
John Sigler @john_siglerr
Panthers hope to be an active Sean Payton suitor. Their picks are now:<br><br>2023: 1, 2, 2 (via Niners), 3 (via Niners), 4, 4 (via Niners), 5<br><br>2024: 1, 2, 3, 5 (via Titans), 5 (via Niners), 6 (via Cardinals)<br><br>2025: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 (via Cardinals), 7 <a href="https://t.co/x2imW6XdCK">https://t.co/x2imW6XdCK</a>
The 49ers, on the other hand, don't have much draft capital next year after going all-in to land a two-time All-Pro running back:
In the official announcement of the trade, Panthers team reporter Darin Gantt wrote that the team is "adding draft inventory for the offseason as they look to build on a core of young players on defense." Carolina has selected a defensive player in the first round in three out of the last four drafts.
At 1-5, the Panthers look like the worst team in the NFL through the first six weeks of the 2022 season. The team fired former head coach Matt Rhule after a blowout loss to the 49ers in Week 5. Carolina also traded disgruntled wide receiver Robby Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals after he had a sideline confrontation with coaches in the middle of a game.
The move to trade McCaffrey continues the Panthers' transition to a rebuild. Carolina has a pair of quarterbacks who aren't signed beyond this season in Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold, both of whom are playing this year on their fifth-year options. Mayfield has struggled as the team's starter, while Darnold returned to practice this week after suffering an ankle injury in the preseason finale.
As for the 49ers, they are in full win-now mode. San Francisco has made deep postseason runs in each of its last two playoff appearances but fell short of its ultimate goal of a Super Bowl victory both times.
The 49ers clearly have no interest in building through the draft, as they feel their window for title contention is wider than ever. Only time will tell if the team's gamble was worth it.