Giants Factored Into Panthers’ Trade-Up Move For RB Jonathon Brooks

Three years ago, Giants connections to DeVonta Smith prompted the Eagles to trade up (via the Cowboys) to outflank their rivals for the Heisman-winning wide receiver. A middle-class version of that situation looks to have played out during this year’s draft.

Not making a strong effort to retain Saquon Barkley in free agency, the Giants pivoted to ex-Brian Daboll Bills charge Devin Singletary at a lower rate. They did add another running back in the draft, addressing the position (Tyrone Tracy Jr.) in the fifth round for the second straight year. The Panthers made a move to ensure the Giants’ investment at the position did not come sooner.

Citing the Giants bringing in Jonathon Brooks for a “30” visit, Panthers GM Dan Morgan advocated to David Tepper the team should trade up to move ahead of the NFC East club for the Texas RB at No. 46. Morgan said he knew of other teams viewing Brooks as this draft’s top running back. Considering Brooks was chosen 20 picks before the second RB went off the board, it seems like a safe assumption other clubs shared Carolina’s view of the ex-Longhorns ball-carrier.

The Panthers traded down from No. 39, allowing the Rams to move up for Florida State defensive lineman Braden Fiske — a deal that gave Carolina a 2025 second-rounder. They sent the Colts two fifths to climb from 52 to 46, with the Giants sitting at 47. New York eventually took Minnesota safety Tyler Nubin, marking the second straight year the Giants went with a Golden Gophers prospect (following center John Michael Schmitz) in Round 2.

We knew that if we traded [No. 39] there would be a player that we would miss out on. We were comfortable with that because we really wanted Brooks, and to be able to get the two next year, we said, OK, once our guys start going, then we’re going have to move back up,” Morgan said, via’s Darin Gantt. “It’s not like we did anything that was so smart or great or whatever; we were just willing to take a larger risk to get that outcome of the trade. It’s like, let’s not get cute here. Let’s just get our guy.”

Morgan and Giants GM Joe Schoen worked together for a stretch in Buffalo, helping give the new Panthers front office boss some insight on how his former coworker could be handling Round 2 in this year’s draft. Morgan also called Schoen about moving up, Gantt adds, while new Panthers exec Brandt Tilis contacted ex-Chiefs coworker Chris Ballard — a conversation that led to the Day 2 swap with the Colts.

Brooks fell to No. 46 in part because of a November ACL tear. He had still amassed 1,139 rushing yards (6.1 per tote) and 10 touchdowns in 11 games last year. With Chuba Hubbard going into a contract year, the Panthers made the move to add a successor early. While Brooks is not yet cleared for full work, he is expected to be back for training camp. He looks set to be eased into action, however, with The Athletic’s Joe Person indicating Hubbard is the “clear leader” on the depth chart going into camp (subscription required).

Hubbard usurped free agent signing Miles Sanders, who received last year’s top UFA RB contract (four years, $25.4MM), during Carolina’s dismal season. The former fourth-round pick totaled 902 rushing yards behind an injury-plagued O-line, averaging only 3.8 per carry, and scored five touchdowns. Sanders also suffered a heel injury while working out on his own, and the malady worsened during OTAs, Person adds.

Considering the Panthers also added Rashaad Penny — who overlapped with Dave Canales in Seattle — and it would not be shocking to see them move on from Sanders despite the dead money hit that would come. Though, it would cost Carolina more than $7MM to drop Sanders; the team would also carry 2025 dead money from that transaction.

As for the Giants, they have been linked to adding another veteran RB to the mix. Singletary is in place as the projected starter, with Tracy and Eric Gray behind him. The team has not re-signed multiyear backup Matt Breida. New York did add UFL rushing leader Jacob Saylors on Tuesday, but its backfield obviously does not appear as imposing as it did when Barkley resided atop the depth chart.

With costs rising on Big Blue’s payroll, the team opted not to re-sign the two-time Pro Bowler. It is not known if the Giants truly would have taken Brooks as a Barkley successor in Round 2, but the Panthers took that option off the table to be safe.

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