Reports over the past week have suggested that the Panthers are seeking to add not just a wide receiver, but a top-flight wide receiver, which they believe will accelerate rookie quarterback Bryce Young‘s development. Dianna Russini of The Athletic (subscription required) echoed those reports today, writing that Carolina has placed calls to other teams and has inquired on wideouts and players at “other positions” (including, perhaps, safeties).
Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports offers something of a contradictory report and says that the team has no interest in trading “legitimate” draft capital. After all, the Panthers do not presently have a first-round pick in 2024 thanks to the offseason trade that netted them the first overall pick of the 2023 draft and allowed them to select Young, and they are not just one wideout away from being a championship contender. But even if a team were inclined to trade an elite receiver at the deadline — and such deals are usually consummated during the offseason — it would be difficult to imagine that happening unless Carolina parts with high-end draft picks.
Some sort of player package could theoretically allow GM Scott Fitterer to acquire a wideout without a major sacrifice of draft capital, though the only players that would likely intrigue a club looking to move a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver are foundational players that Fitterer would presumably want to keep. Russini does note that the Panthers have told other teams they are not looking to sell — i.e. trade players for picks — at the October 31 trade deadline, so as of right now, it could be that only minor transactions are on the horizon for Carolina.
The 0-5 outfit is the only winless club left in the league, but as ESPN’s David Newton writes, head coach Frank Reich is not panicking.
“It’s terrible we’re 0-4,” Reich said this week. “It’s terrible that we haven’t had more success on offense for [Young] to feel that a little bit more. But I really believe and know that’s coming. There will be stuff that we gain, that he gains, that going through this difficulty, the mental toughness and the grit, fighting through that will pay dividends later.”
To that end, the team is trying to simplify matters for Young, as Jones reports. Between Reich, offensive coordinator Thomas Brown, quarterbacks coach Josh McCown, and senior offensive assistant Jim Caldwell, there are a number of well-respected minds on the staff, but there may be too many voices in Young’s ear.
While Young’s intelligence and processing ability are attributes that convinced the Panthers to draft him, those same attributes may also be holding him back right now. He absorbs and tries to put into action all of the input he receieves from the staff, and according to Jones, that “information overload” has contributed to Young’s disappointing start to his pro career.
It makes sense that a simpler, more streamlined offense would be beneficial for any rookie passer, regardless of that player’s mental acuity. It is unclear what that means for Carolina’s short-term gameplans, but we may see it in action today, as the Panthers try to secure their first victory of the season.