NFL Rumors: Carolina Panthers Should Wise Up and Deal RB Jonathan Stewart

Eric BowmanFeatured ColumnistApril 3, 2012

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 24: Jonathan Stewart #28 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates after the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Bank of America Stadium on December 24, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

The Carolina Panthers have immense depth at running back right now, which is why they need to move Jonathan Stewart, their best trade piece. 

After signing Mike Tolbert in free agency, Carolina's backfield became very deep. The Panthers traded Mike Goodson away, but the rumors continued to swirl around Stewart. 

According to Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer, Panthers GM Marty Hurney, "reiterated the team is not shopping Stewart." 

Stewart is entering the final year of his contract, which means now is the perfect time to trade him. Its highly likely he'll bolt in free agency so he can have more playing time elsewhere.

Therefore, the Panthers need to send him packing so they get something in return as opposed to letting him walk. 

While Stewart can be a good contributor next year along with DeAngelo Williams and Tolbert, Carolina would be better off trading him for some draft picks or solid defensive players. 

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That's an area the Panthers need help in, and they'd probably prefer to land a young stud through the draft. 

Unfortunately, it looks like management doesn't intend to deal Stewart, which honestly hinders their backfield. 

Having a platoon of three guys will frustrate all of them, but splitting carries between two players is a better approach to keep the running backs happier. 

The Panthers would get good value in return for Stewart, who recently just turned 25. Williams is the more enticing player for teams, but his big contract will make it hard for him to be dealt.

That's why Stewart needs to be on the move. It would greatly benefit the team to get good talent in return for Stewart while his value is still high. 

After two stellar years to start with the Panthers, it's been pretty much downhill for Stewart these past two seasons. His numbers have decreased, but he's still very tradable.

ESPN's John Clayton points out in his mailbag that a team like the Packers would be a good spot for Stewart, but they aren't the only team with a big need at running back. 

Moving Stewart wouldn't be that difficult because there are quite a few teams that could really use his services. 

It doesn't appear anything will happen now, but as the weeks move on and the 2012 NFL Draft draws near, don't be surprised if the Panthers trade Stewart. After all, it is the smart thing to do for them since it would really help out the team. 

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