NFL trade deadline: Can 49ers partake in Panthers’ fire sale?

Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images)
Christian McCaffrey #22 of the Carolina Panthers (Photo by Eakin Howard/Getty Images) /

The 49ers may be closely monitoring what the rebuilding Panthers do before the NFL trade deadline, but can John Lynch pull off a key move?

While many a fan in the Carolinas knew it was time for the Carolina Panthers to move on from head coach Matt Rhule long ago, it took the San Francisco 49ers’ 37-15 Week 5 beatdown to ensure the Panthers finally fired their head coach.

There’ll be a coaching change this upcoming offseason, which usually means the organization will look to offload expensive assets it no longer deems necessary to a rebuild in order to land much-needed NFL Draft capital and cap space.

In short, Carolina might as well have a sign outside of Bank of America Stadium that reads, “Fire sale! Everything must go!”

With the Niners currently sitting atop the NFC West with a 3-2 record, it’s certainly reasonable to assume general manager John Lynch will be paying attention to the trade market to see if there’s some Panthers talent that can help fuel San Francisco’s upcoming postseason push.

But, will the 49ers be able to partake between now and the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 1?

Panthers players the 49ers may be interested in at NFL trade deadline

Carolina easily has some movable assets, and a number of players could help out the Niners in a big way.

OG Austin Corbett

Despite the Panthers’ offensive struggles, their offensive line has been notably good enough, and veteran guard Austin Corbett has experience in a similar system to the one the Niners operate, having played with the Los Angeles Rams, previously.

His base salary for 2022 is just over $1.03 million, according to Over the Cap, making him an affordable option to help upgrade San Francisco’s interior, but that base salary jumps up to $7.8 million in 2023.

It’s unclear whether or not San Francisco, which has $27.9 million in cap space in 2023, will want to pay that after using mid-round picks on two guards, Aaron Banks and Spencer Burford, in each of the last two seasons.

WR Robbie Anderson

Wide receiver Robbie Anderson probably wants yet another new quarterback, and he might be the first Panthers player to go between now and the NFL trade deadline.

The 29 year old has only 206 yards and a touchdown this season, and his base salary is just over $1.03 million. Like Corbett, however, Anderson’s salary jumps significantly in 2023 to up to $21.7 million.

With All-Pro wide receiver Deebo Samuel extended, it doesn’t seem likely the 49ers would want to dish out more top money at the position.

EDGE Brian Burns

Carolina’s defense provided a modest challenge to the Niners in Week 5 before ultimately breaking, yet pass-rusher Brian Burns certainly made his presence felt by picking up another sack versus San Francisco to increase his team-lead total to five.

A tandem of Burns and Pro Bowl EDGE Nick Bosa would be fearsome, and it’d reinforce the notion of the 49ers having the most talented and potent defense in the NFL, perfect for a Super Bowl push.

However, the Panthers just picked up Burns’ fifth-year option for 2023, and it’s likely they view Burns as a foundational piece for the upcoming rebuild. If he was to be moved, it’d probably involve a starting price of at least a first-round draft pick, something the Niners don’t have in 2023.

Beyond that, San Francisco would probably prefer developing rookie EDGE Drake Jackson rather than dish out even more capital on Burns.

RB Christian McCaffrey

The thought of adding one-time All-Pro running back Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers offense isn’t anything new, and it’s fun to envision what a healthy McCaffrey would look like in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

The Niners do have injury concerns at the position, and it wouldn’t be shocking to see Lynch go after someone by the NFL trade deadline to help reinforce this group.

Read More: NFL trade deadline: Should 49ers trade for RB Christian McCaffrey?

However, McCaffrey’s hefty contract, one that’s worth over $16 million annually through 2025 wouldn’t exactly be the best target for San Francisco to deploy resources, both in terms of trade assets and money spent.

The 49ers have already spent big cash on tailbacks before (see Jerick McKinnon in 2018) and would be wise to avoid doing so again.

NFL trade deadline: Why 49ers don’t explore a trade with Panthers

In addition to wanting to save as much cap space as possible, namely to save money for what’ll surely be a massive contract extension for Bosa, it doesn’t seem likely the Niners will have much of an “in” for any of the aforementioned players.

The problem with a fire sale is plenty of other teams are going to be in on the mix, and most of those squads boast a first-round pick to land top-end talent like Burns, McCaffrey or even Corbett.

If Lynch is looking for someone to pluck away from Carolina, he might have to settle on depth options only.

One name that could be on the radar is third-year wide receiver Laviska Shenault, who hasn’t made much of a dent this season after back-to-back 600-yard campaigns and an impressive five-touchdown rookie season.

Still on that rookie contract, Shenault might be had for considerably cheap an asking price, but that’s only if San Francisco feels the former Colorado pass-catcher can fill a niche role behind players like Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Either way, the fire sale is going to be something to monitor as the 2022 NFL trade deadline approaches.

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