The Panthers may have been in play for Jimmy Garoppolo earlier this offseason, but that all changed with Friday’s blockbuster NFL Draft trade.
The Carolina Panthers will have an entirely new quarterback leading them in 2023.
It just won’t be still-San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Carolina engineered a blockbuster trade with the Chicago Bears, sending away the ninth overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, a late Round 2 pick, a first- and a second-round pick in the 2024 draft and wide receiver D.J. Moore, as all reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Friday afternoon, all to nab the No. 1 overall pick this upcoming April.
Teams don’t do that for anyone other than a quarterback. It fully appears as if the Panthers are 100 percent committed to finally ending the string of lousy signal-calling that has plagued the team since former franchise quarterback Cam Newton.
Alabama’s Bryce Young might be the new quarterback at Bank of America Stadium. Or, potentially, it’s Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud.
Neither is Garoppolo.
Was Jimmy Garoppolo a possibility for the Panthers?
Back during the 2022 offseason when the Niners were actively shopping Garoppolo, Carolina certainly seemed like a plausible destination.
That was before the Panthers traded with the Cleveland Browns for quarterback Baker Mayfield, though. However, in light of Mayfield being one of the latest Carolina signal-callers to flame out, perhaps that decision was the wrong one.
It was made, nevertheless, and with Mayfield out of the picture late in 2022 to the Los Angeles Rams, Garoppolo resurfacing as a possible free-agent addition this offseason made some sense.
At least according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Now, the Panthers are out as suitors.
Will it be easier for Jimmy Garoppolo to find a new team now?
Unlike last offseason, Garoppolo’s contract will officially expire with San Francisco when the league’s new year begins on March 15, and the 49ers have made all overtures to say he won’t be coming back.
That said, the quarterback market is beginning to dry up a bit, at least in terms of veteran additions.
With Carolina out of the running for anything other than a rookie at No. 1 overall, and potentially a cheap backup to mentor him, there are a dwindling number of other options. Especially in the wake of the New Orleans Saints acquiring quarterback Derek Carr from the Las Vegas Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks re-signing their quarterback, Geno Smith.
There are still likely to be plenty of teams interested in Garoppolo’s services.
Yet he’s a 31-year-old veteran who has suffered three season-ending injuries in the last six years. And the Niners precluded Carolina’s blockbuster trade with one of their own back in 2021 for quarterback Trey Lance, suggesting they weren’t on board with Garoppolo being the long-term answer.
All told, it seems like Garoppolo will end up being a “settling” option instead of a franchise-altering upgrade.