It's all about the future at this point for the Carolina Panthers, and that future may still include wide receiver D.J. Moore even after trading away Christian McCaffrey.
Carolina announced it traded McCaffrey to the San Francisco 49ers on Thursday, and ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reported it has also "received multiple trade calls" from teams interested in Moore. Yet Fowler noted "the team has considered Moore a foundational piece to the roster. That would make a trade tough to execute."
This has quickly turned into a lost season for the Panthers.
At quarterback, Sam Darnold has been out with an injury, and Baker Mayfield struggled before he was also sidelined. At head coach, the team already fired Matt Rhule and saw interim coach Steve Wilks send wide receiver Robbie Anderson to the locker room during Sunday's loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
The Panthers have since traded Anderson to the Arizona Cardinals and are sitting in last place in the NFC South at 1-5.
Trading McCaffrey was just the latest signal that it is time to focus on the future in Carolina, and the draft-pick haul should help the team do just that.
According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, San Francisco sent the NFC South team a second-, third- and fourth-round pick in 2023 and a fifth-round pick in 2024. That certainly helps deal with the sting of losing a game-changer like McCaffrey, especially for a team that is not a realistic contender.
As long as the Panthers are moving their impact veterans for draft picks, Moore would seem like the next logical candidate.
Yet he is just 25 years old and under contract through 2025. There certainly exists a path where he is a foundational cornerstone for the franchise and a go-to option when it may be competitive again in the next few seasons.
That hasn't been the case this year, as he has struggled to make an impact with poor quarterback play.
The Maryland product who had three straight seasons of more than 1,100 receiving yards has 20 catches for 204 yards and one touchdown through six games in 2022. It has been far from the level of production fans are accustomed to, and plenty of fantasy managers would probably love to see him get a fresh start with a different offense.
Carolina may decide against making that fresh start happen.