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Why Trade-Ups Are Becoming More Popular for NFL Quarterbacks

by Joshua Brown
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The Carolina Panthers were really unhappy with their quarterbacks, so they decided to make a big change. They traded away the star receiver D.J. Moore, as well as four draft picks (two first-round and two second-round). This let them get the top overall pick in next week’s draft – meaning they will be able to choose the best quarterback out of all of them!

The Panthers’ General Manager Scott Fitterer said that if you know exactly the type of player you want, then “you go get him”. We won’t know who this person is yet – if it’s quarterback Bryce Young who many people like or any of the other three QBs predicted to be drafted in the first round: C.J. Stroud, Anthony Richardson or Will Levis – until next Thursday night.

This is the first time in four years that a team has traded its top pick. Back then, the Rams made a deal to get hold of Jared Goff.

Recently, it has become more and more common for teams to move up in the draft when they want to get a quarterback’s pick. In the past 12 drafts, this was done 17 times while it only happened four times in the 34 years before that.

Mike Tannenbaum, a former Jets general manager said that in today’s NFL, you need an amazing quarterback to be successful. In 2009, he traded up twelve spots in the draft to get Mark Sanchez and while he didn’t become a star, it was enough for the Jets to make it to the championship game his first two years playing.

In 2011, a new rule was established at the Collective Bargaining Agreement that made it possible for teams with quarterbacks in their rookie contracts to use the additional savings they got to have more players on their team. This way, these teams can get great production from their players without having to pay much money. As Mike Tannenbaum said, this gives them a real advantage.

The Panthers made a decision after their successful run with Cam Newton from 2011-2015, which ended with them making it to the Super Bowl. For the past five seasons, they have been using different quarterbacks, such as Teddy Bridgewater and Baker Mayfield, trading draft picks for veterans.

The Panthers haven’t been doing very well in recent years and currently have the fifth-worst record with the second-lowest passer rating. So, they decided to buy the number one pick from another team so that this player can help make the team better in the future.

Coach Frank Reich said that if you can get lucky and get a good young quarterback, then he’ll be with the team for five years. He had a similar experience when he coached Indianapolis, but they didn’t do as well as Carolina.

“If a player is really good, but not yet making tons of money (like someone on their third contract who might make $50 million), it’s good for the team because you can use that advantage to build up your team. But it is hard for teams to know beforehand who might become NFL stars when they look at college prospects.”

Sometimes teams pick their quarterbacks wisely and it pays off, like when Kansas City got two-time MVP Patrick Mahomes in 2017 or Buffalo successfully got Josh Allen the next year. But other times it’s a miss – like when the Jets lost three second-round picks to take San Darnold third overall in 2018, or when the 49ers gave up three first round picks to draft Trey Lance third overall but he only played four games during his first two seasons.

The Panthers have a lot of history leading up to this year’s draft. Other teams like the Colts (who have the fourth pick in the draft), The Raiders (at seventh pick) or the Titans (11th pick in the draft) could be moving up in the draft to get a quarterback.

Chris Ballard, the general manager for the Colts team, said that it’s really hard to find a really good player for their position. He also mentioned how people will do whatever they can to keep these players when they find them, but it is still a difficult task to evaluate them.

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