In August, imagining Dave Gettleman looking to make a mid-season move in hopes of making a Super Bowl run seemed a near impossible scenario. He’s repeatedly stated that it’s a dangerous mistake to believe a team is “just one player” away. He’s made these statements during free agency, when fans are willing to exchange instant gratification for long-term stability, however. Just two months ago, it would have been reasonable to believe Gettleman would apply the same logic to mid-season roster additions bigger than the simple signing a guy on waivers or a practice squad. The acquisition of Kevin Norwood, just before the start of the season for a 7th round conditional pick to Seattle, certainly didn’t suggest otherwise.
Then Charles Johnson went down in Week 3. Gettleman acted fast, acquiring perennial Pro-Bowler, Jared Allen from Chicago. He’s a veteran, who hasn’t been a game changing player in a while, but he does have name recognition and was good enough to patent a lasso celebration. The move did, however, show Gettleman realized that the Panthers were hot and there were a couple of positions that lacked the depth and experience to weather injury. To not attempt address the weakness would quickly derail the Panthers’ run.
Carolina, however, has been playing better than anyone could have expected. And while the known stars, like Cam Newton, Thomas Davis, and Luke Kuechly, are playing well, a constellation of new stars, like Kawaan Short and Josh Norman, have emerged to make Carolina a legitimate Super Bowl contender just a third of the way through the season. Making the playoffs or a deep playoff run is far from certain, but is is a very real possiblity.
The trade deadline is Tuesday, and while Carolina may not be “just one player away,” the Panthers are clearly lacking at one position--wide receiver. Hopes that rookie Devin Funchess would blossom early diminish each week, and although Ted Ginn, Jr is playing the best football of his career, tight-end Greg Olsen remains Carolina’s top passing threat. Even at their best, there’s a feeling that Carolina lacks the talent outside to make a deep playoff run.
If Gettleman was considering making a deal, with the thought of not squandering the hot start, there are some interesting players on the trading block who could make a difference in Carolina.
Calvin Johnson- When we brought it up on the C3 podcast, it sounded as if it was more absurdity than fantasy. The next day, Gill Brandt suggested the Panthers trade for Megatron. It’s still as absurd as it was before he endorsed the idea, given Johnson’s still got over 48 million guaranteed on his contract through 2019. If there was a trade Gettleman would consider, this isn’t it.
Anquan Boldin- Perhaps the most friendly of the options, Boldin is only scheduled to make 6.5 million in the last year of his contract with guaranteed money. San Francisco looks hopeless, but Boldin is still producing, tallying 32 catches, 371 yds, and 2 TDs this season. We’ve seen Boldin find a second and third life before in his career, and Carolina could give him a fourth. He’s the grizzled veteran with physical enough game to do the dirty work that Ted Ginn and Philly Brown can’t, and what Funchess certainly isn’t ready for.
Alshon Jeffery- He’s in the last year of his rookie deal and he still remains a mystery. He’s been absent from the field, and his late return hasn’t yet revealed how concerning his injuries truly are. The Bears aren’t going anywhere any time soon, and with Matt Forte certain to depart by next season, the team looking for a new future quarterback, and the uncertainty surrounding Kevin White, the Bears may look to just commit to the rebuilding process by letting Jeffery go. If they aren’t planning on signing him to a substantial contract, they may as well get something for him. He won’t come cheap, but given the uncertainties of his injuries, he can’t break the bank entirely.
Golden Tate- Not the sexiest move for sure, Tate’s measurables aren’t blowing anyone away. He’s not a big guy, and he doesn’t have the storied career that commands respect whenever he steps on the field. He is a playmaker, who can cause damage in space. With 34 catches for 318 yards, he’s been more productive than any Panthers receiver. Tate also brings special teams experience and could return punts in the event that something happened to Ginn. Tate would be a relatively expensive move. He has over 13 million guaranteed dollars left on his contract through 2017. He’s much younger than most other available options, and with some time left on his contract, he’s got some tread left on the tires.
Steve Smith- This simply won’t happen. Smitty claims he would retire if the Ravens traded him, and there’s no world where Gettleman would jeopardize Carolina’s locker room by bringing back a huge personality who holds grudges. Smith would help Carolina on the field, but likely destroy the team’s chemistry.
Malcom Floyd- I knew he was old, but I didn’t know he was 34 until I looked it up. He’s a big bodied veteran, however, on a bad team. There was a lot of hype surrounding the Chargers prior to the season, but all of that is lost with their 2-5 start. Making the playoffs seems a longshot at best at this point. There’s a good chance this is Floyd’s last NFL season, so giving him a farewell run on a contending team and getting something for him in the process, seems reasonable. He’s the cheapest of all the options and he doesn’t come with any future commitment.
Gettleman likely will just stand pat and see what happens. If he were to make a run at one of these guys, Floyd or Boldin seem the most realistic. There’s an outside chance that Tate could help this season and nicely compliment Kelvin Benjamin next season, but Gettleman would have to truly believe in his skill-set.
By the Professor, aka Tony Dunn
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