The Carolina Panthers lost in heartbreaking fashion on Sunday, falling to 2-6 and solidifying themselves as sellers at the trade deadline. Thanks to the woefully inept NFC South, the Panthers actually would have held the division title if they had held on against Atlanta. However, with their current record, the Panthers have no choice but to consider selling some of their good players for draft capital.
Who Should the Carolina Panthers Trade Away at the Deadline?
Candidate 1: Brian Burns
Based on overall talent and positional importance, there is a strong case to be made that edge defender Brian Burns is the most important player on Carolina’s roster. The former first-round pick is in the midst of yet another strong season, starting in all eight of Carolina’s contests while recording five sacks, 36 tackles, eight tackles-for-loss, and nine quarterback hits. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s currently the 33rd best edge rusher in football, and he has the potential to be a top-10 player at the position. It should go without saying that the Panthers could get a massive haul for a player like Burns, but they’re better off holding on to him.
The Panthers actually have a fairly solid defense, and Burns is a big reason for that success. Carolina needs a lot of help on offense, but Burns is a cornerstone of the defense and should be one of the key building blocks for the Panthers rebuild. He might not be a generational player like J.J. Watt back in his day, but the odds of finding another player as good as him in the draft are pretty slim. He needs to stay around and be the face of the defense.
Candidate 2: D.J. Moore
D.J. Moore has been plagued by poor quarterback play ever since he entered the NFL back in 2018. However, despite the underwhelming options under center, he’s always found a way to be a valuable part of the passing attack and has steadily developed into one of the better receivers in the game. On Sunday, he showed his worth by going off for six receptions, 152 yards, and the game-tying touchdown. Considering how the wide receiver market has exploded over the past year, the Panthers could probably get a haul for someone like Moore.
However, once again, Moore is too good and his position is too valuable to seriously entertain any trade offer. Trading Christian McCaffrey was justified because D’Onta Foreman could put up similar results for a fraction of the cost, but the same is not true for Moore. In today’s NFL, you need to have an elite passing attack if you want to compete, and you need good wide receivers to make that happen.
Candidate 3: Derrick Brown
Another key piece along the defensive line, Derrick Brown has been everything the Carolina Panthers could possibly hope for since entering the league. As an interior lineman, stats do not do him justice, as his job is to take up space and free others to make plays. He’s remarkably good at that job, as Pro Football Focus currently has him as the sixth-best interior defender in football. He’s immovable in the run game and would be a welcome addition for any contender.
Losing Brown would hurt, but the Panther should definitely listen to any offers for the interior lineman. Unlike Burns and Moore, Brown’s position isn’t too important by NFL standards. Unless you’re Aaron Donald, interior linemen generally don’t have too big of an impact on the win-loss column. Basically, a great interior lineman is a nice complementary piece for a championship contender but doesn’t make for a good foundation piece of a rebuild. If someone is offering a second-round pick for Brown, the Panthers should pull the trigger.