It is tempting in the wake of the Panthers' 0-3 start to want to mess with the team in a dramatic way, as my colleague Tom Sorensen proposes today in his column advocating a trade of Steve Smith.
Now I’m all for messing with the Panthers – something needs to be done, for sure. But there are a couple of problems with that scenario:
1) Smith wouldn't bring nearly as much in trade value right now as he would have, say, four years ago. Remember his various injury problems and his age (31) and forget the idea that the Panthers would get multiple high picks for him. I’d guess at best they might get a second-rounder for Smith. I believe he’s worth more to Carolina now as the team’s biggest playmaking threat than he’d be worth elsewhere (although given this offense, I certainly wouldn’t blame Smith if he wanted to go elsewhere. Wouldn’t you if you were him?).
2) If the Panthers trade Smith, they’ll be even worse offensively and simply have to back-fill the position. I don’t much like the idea of David Gettis and Brandon LaFell starting, do you? And Dwayne Jarrett has been a huge bust. So the draft pick or picks that Smith brings – it might end up being spent yet again on wide receiver, since no one knows for sure yet if LaFell, Gettis or Armanti Edwards is going to work out long-term.
To me, it would make more sense to trade from a position of strength. The Panthers have a stable of three running backs that is the envy of the NFL. You’d have to do some contractual work with DeAngelo Williams to trade him, but Jonathan Stewart could be traded right now. He’s young, in his prime and certainly good enough to be the No.1 back at most places in the NFL (although Williams is a shade better). Mike Goodson is an adequate backup back. Trading Stewart would make more sense to me than Williams (assuming DeAngelo would get locked into a long-term deal in Charlotte) or, alternately, trading DeAngelo and keeping Stewart and Goodson. This would help break up the logjam at RB and could give the Panthers help where they need it most.