2021 NFL Draft Rumors: Panthers Exploring Trading Back from No. 8 Pick

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 20, 2021

The goalpost padding displays the Salute to Service logo and colors in honor of the men and women who have given the ultimate sacrifice as seen here before the start of an NFL football game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Charlotte, N.C., Sunday, Nov. 4, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike McCarn)
Mike McCarn/Associated Press

We've already seen a number of trades at the top of the NFL draft order this offseason. Don't be surprised if more are on the way. 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers are reportedly willing to listen to offers for the No. 8 pick:

Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter

Carolina Panthers have had conversations with other teams about potentially trading back in the draft from pick No. 8, per source. There are all sorts of ongoing trade conversations between teams, let’s see what next week brings.

Joe Person of The Athletic added, "It helps to give the appearance you might take a quarterback. But the Panthers are intrigued by [Justin] Fields, per sources."

So much of this year's draft maneuvering will come down to when the top quarterbacks hear their names called. The Jacksonville Jaguars will select Trevor Lawrence, while the New York Jets seem all but assured of taking Zach Wilson second.

The San Francisco 49ers are a bit of a mystery team, given that it's uncertain who they'll take at No. 3, though it will be a quarterback after they gave up a small fortune to move up to that draft slot. And the Atlanta Falcons are a possibility to add someone at the position as Matt Ryan's eventual replacement, though they could also choose to focus on other areas. 

The Cincinnati Bengals (Joe Burrow) and Miami Dolphins (Tua Tagovailoa) won't pick quarterbacks at Nos. 5 and 6 after using first-round picks on the position last year. The Detroit Lions are a wild card at No. 7, with Jared Goff already on the roster but the possibility they could add another young option to groom behind Goff if he doesn't work out. 

And at No. 9, the Denver Broncos are a real possibility to draft another quarterback, with Drew Lock yet to prove he's a franchise option. 

Troy Renck @TroyRenck

I could see Falcons, Dolphins, Lions and Panthers considering moving back. This all could impact #Broncos if want QB in first round. #Denver7 https://t.co/iCVb8SS29N

So if the Panthers are on the clock and at least one of Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones is still on the board, teams looking to move ahead of the Broncos could come calling. It's also possible that franchises just outside the top 10 that don't want a quarterback could look to move ahead of teams at picks Nos. 10-14 to secure the player they've been targeting. 

The Panthers could also stay put, of course. The team could draft a quarterback, hedging the Sam Darnold bet it made. If offensive tackle Penei Sewell drops to No. 8, he would fill a huge need.

Josh Norris @JoshNorris

Personally feel like Carolina is in a perfect spot to fill a primary need (LT) at No. 8 with Slater or Sewell But maybe they like a 3rd OT in the same tier, or prefer a different position. Fitterer was certain in a Seahawks room for years and years that LOVED a trade down. https://t.co/mxlZ0y9JOs

And if one of the top pass-catchers is available (tight end Kyle Pitts, wideouts Ja'Marr Chase, DeVonta Smith, Jaylen Waddle), it would be hard to blame the Panthers for going that route.

So they don't have to lock themselves into one scenario, especially because they could earn a lot of draft capital from a team desperate to get into the top 10 if one of their preferred quarterbacks is on the board (the New England Patriots are the team to monitor in such an outcome). It's always good to have contingency plan upon contingency plan at the draft.