Brian Burns

Trade Deadline Notes: Burns, R. Smith, 49ers

The trade deadline passed on Tuesday, but reports of near-deals and trade talks featuring high-profile players continue to trickle in. Though the NFL trade deadline may never produce the anticipation that the MLB deadline seems to generate, NFL front offices are increasingly amenable to making deals, and this year’s deadline day brought with it 10 trades and 12 players changing teams, both league records. As Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets, that type of activity is wildly popular among fans and therefore good for business, and Yates’ ESPN colleague, Adam Schefter, says multiple clubs have reached out to the league office this week to discuss the possibility of moving future deadlines to later dates.

In 2012, the league pushed the deadline back two weeks, from the Tuesday after Week 6 to the Tuesday after Week 8. Another move could see the deadline moved to sometime after Week 10 or Week 12, which would presumably produce even more trades. The idea is that, the later the deadline, the more clarity teams will have with respect to their status as a playoff contender, which will lead to more trade activity. Schefter hears that the issue will be raised at the general manager committee meetings later this month.

Now for more fallout and other notes from this year’s deadline extravaganza:

  • Teams were perhaps most interested in improving their receiving talent at the deadline, as players like Chase ClaypoolCalvin RidleyKadarius Toney, and T.J. Hockenson changed hands on or before deadline day, and big names like Brandin Cooks, Jerry Jeudy, DeAndre Hopkins, and D.J. Moore generated conversations as well. According to Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, the aggression on that front was inspired at least in part by a weak 2023 class of free agent receivers headlined by the likes of Jakobi Meyers, Deonte Harty, Nelson Agholor, Allen Lazard, Mecole Hardman, and JuJu Smith-Schuster. On a related note, Joel Corry of CBS Sports believes that, if the Saints choose to move on from Michael Thomas this offseason, they may find a number of suitors, despite Thomas’ recent injury woes (Twitter link).
  • It was indeed the Rams who were willing to trade two first-round picks to the Panthers in exchange for DE Brian Burns, as Jones writes in a separate piece. Confirming prior reports, Jones says Los Angeles offered its 2024 and 2025 first-round selections — the team is without a 2023 first-round pick to due to last year’s Matthew Stafford trade — and he adds that the club also included a 2023 second-round choice in its final proposal. Carolina gave serious consideration to the offer, but it ultimately elected to hold onto Burns, which will increase the player’s leverage in offseason extension talks. Per Jones, Burns is likely to land a deal that far exceeds the $110MM pact that the Dolphins recently authorized for their own deadline acquisition, Bradley Chubb.
  • Speaking of the Panthers, we learned earlier today that the club also turned down a first-round pick for Moore. The Panthers’ reticence to trade its young talent (aside from Christian McCaffrey, of course) was on full display at the deadline, and while the decisions to retain Moore and Burns were certainly defensible, every executive with whom Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post spoke was shocked that the club did not pull the trigger on Burns. “I can’t believe they turned [the Rams’ offer] down. Now they almost have to pay him whatever he wants because everyone knows they turned down two [first-round picks] for him,” one GM said. Apparently, cornerback Donte Jackson also drew some trade interest, though another GM said the Panthers were asking too much for him as well.
  • The 49ersacquisition of McCaffrey will necessitate some “bean-counting creativity” from GM John Lynch this offseason, as Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle opines. The team’s impending cap crunch, intensified by McCaffrey’s $12MM cap hit for 2023, will make it more difficult for the club to retain QB Jimmy Garoppolo — though that may not have been in the cards anyway — and RT Mike McGlinchey.
  • Bears head coach Matt Eberflus acknowledged that one of the reasons his team traded linebacker Roquan Smith is because of Smith’s lack of ball production relative to his peers, particularly the peers who have contracts that Smith wants to top, as Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Compared to fellow 2018 draftee and three-time First Team All-Pro Shaquille Leonard, for instance, Smith has five fewer interceptions (seven), 16 fewer forced fumbles (one), and six fewer fumble recoveries (one) over the course of his career.
  • The Lionstrade of Hockenson will naturally create more playing time for second-year pro Brock Wright — who is expected to step into the starting TE role — and fifth-round rookie James Mitchell, as Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website notes. Mitchell, who is still strengthening and rehabbing the torn ACL he suffered as a collegian at Virginia Tech in 2021, has played just 21 offensive snaps this season but offers big-play upside at the tight end position.

Rams Pursued OLB, OL, RB Help; Team Was Not In On Cooks, Hunt At Deadline

The Rams’ success after in-season trades for Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller likely impacted other teams’ plans at this year’s deadline, but the defending Super Bowl champions sat out this year’s final stretch of trading. This was not due to roster contentment or lack of trying, however.

The 3-4 team is believed to have made a monster offer for Brian Burns and lost out to the 49ers for Christian McCaffrey, with a San Francisco fourth-round pick potentially being the difference for Carolina. But the Rams also pursued offensive line and wide receiver aid at this year’s deadline, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required).

Los Angeles has seen its offense crater this season. No Sean McVay-led Rams team has finished outside the top 11 in total offense; this year’s iteration ranks 30th. Injuries at almost every offensive line position, to starters and backups, have limited the Rams considerably. Allen Robinson not following the likes of Brandin Cooks or Odell Beckham Jr. as quick studies in McVay’s attack has also affected the Rams, who rank 28th in scoring. The team opted not to swing a deal before Tuesday’s deadline, however.

Although the Browns discussed Kareem Hunt before the deadline, Rodrigue notes the Rams were not a serious suitor. The Eagles were believed to be the team that would have landed Hunt, if the Browns were legitimately interested in moving him. Shortly after a Monday-night blowout of the Bengals, the Browns seemed to back off on this front. Hunt is now set to play out his Cleveland contract ahead of free agency.

McVay has attempted a few backfield solutions this season, but none has done much to help the reigning champs’ cause. The Rams rank 31st in rushing and have not seen Cam Akers (three yards per carry) return to the form he showed before his July 2021 Achilles tear. They have seen left tackle Joe Noteboom, third-round rookie guard Logan Bruss and backup guard Tremayne Anchrum suffer season-ending injuries. The team has also played extensively without center Brian Allen, who has since returned, and left guard David Edwards (who has not). Right guard Coleman Shelton also remains on IR.

Akers, who said this week he did not request a trade, became a trade chip for the Rams. But they could not reach an agreement to unload the third-year back. Akers returned to practice this week and is not on L.A.’s injury report, clearing a path to an unexpected return to the Rams’ offense.

Additionally, the Rams were mentioned as interested in a Cooks reunion. They did pursue this, per Rodrigue, but were not in the running for the oft-traded wideout in the days leading up to the deadline. The Texans made it clear they were not planning to eat any of Cooks’ $18MM 2023 guarantee. This and an asking price of second- and fourth-round picks — more than they gave up to acquire Cooks from the Rams in 2020 — cooled down the market. Cooks, who is tied to a two-year deal worth $39MM he signed in April, is planning to rejoin the Texans after a trade-related dispute led to his missing their Thursday game.

The Rams have made big moves at the deadline under McVay. Their Dante Fowler acquisition in 2018 helped that edition to Super Bowl LIII. Ramsey and Austin Corbett (2019) made big differences in the 2020 and ’21 teams advancing in the playoffs, and Miller significantly moved the needle last season. The Rams have not replaced Miller, whom they aggressively attempted to retain in free agency, leading to the Burns pursuit.

The Rams did “everything they could” to try and land Burns, a GM informed the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora. It is somewhat surprising the Panthers would turn down an offer of two first-round picks for a one-time Pro Bowler who has yet to post his first 10-sack season, the Rams would have needed to include 2024 and 2025 first-rounders. GM Scott Fitterer, who was hired during the Matt Rhule period, may not have been too keen on not picking up a prime 2023 asset in the deal. Reports of L.A.’s Burns offer being rebuffed will only bolster the fourth-year Carolina edge rusher’s extension value, when that time comes.

After seeing their Burns push fail, the Rams have not been mentioned as being involved in the Bradley Chubb sweepstakes. While they may well have been one of the 10-plus teams to call the Broncos on the then-contract-year pass rusher, the Dolphins including a first-round pick would have given the Rams — who again are without their 2023 first-rounder — an uphill battle.

Barring a long-rumored Beckham reunion, the Rams will attempt to defend their NFC West title without a splashy addition. They will enter their post-deadline stretch 1.5 games behind the surprising Seahawks.

Rams Offered Two First-Round Picks For Panthers’ Brian Burns

After the Panthers fired head coach Matt Rhule, and especially after they traded away Christian McCaffrey, speculation has continued to swirl with respect to the Panthers’ other franchise players. At the top of that list is Brian Burns, whom the rebuilding team has held on to despite at least one substantial offer for the emerging pass rusher.

It was reported last week that Carolina received an offer of two first-round picks for Burns, as teams look to take advantage of the Panthers’ sell-off, and, more generally, the 2022 edge rush market. It was not known at the time which team submitted that sizeable proposal, but it has since been reported by SI’s Albert Breer that the Rams made a “substantial offer” for Burns.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler tweets that it is believed the defending Super Bowl champions were indeed the ones who put a pair of Day 1 selections on the table. That would fall in line with general manager Les Snead‘s well-known stance on draft picks, and, as Fowler notes, give the team a Von Miller replacement. Los Angeles sent second- and third-round picks to the Broncos for the latter last year, a move which helped earn the team the Lombardi Trophy.

Burns, 24, would certainly represent another major investment at the position, one with longer-term implications given his age. The Panthers have been very clear, however, that the Florida State product is one of a handful of franchise cornerstones who are highly unlikely to be moved. That, along with the fact that the Rams don’t own their 2023 first-rounder, would explain their reluctance to execute even a deal which would have greatly boosted their draft capital.

Fowler also notes that the Rams included maligned running back Cam Akers in their negotiations with Carolina. Akers has struggled to regain his form after last year’s Achilles tear, and his relationship with head coach Sean McVay has reached the point where both sides are eyeing a change of scenery.

With the door seemingly closed to Los Angeles being able to acquire Burns, their attention will presumably turn even more towards Broncos pass rusher Bradley Chubb. He heads the list of edge rushers believed to be available, and the Rams are among the teams thought to be most active in their pursuit of help at the position. In the coming hours, it will be revealed if they are successful in that endeavor.

Chiefs, Rams Expected To Pursue Pass Rushing Help

The Chiefs and Rams are involved in the Brandin Cooks market, and both clubs are also seeking upgrades to their pass rushing contingent. Per Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports, Kansas City and Los Angeles would like to add a pass rusher prior to Tuesday’s trade deadline.

The most notable pass rusher that has the best chance of being moved within the next several days appears to be Denver’s Bradley Chubb. Indeed, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com classifies the 2-5 Broncos as the most likely team to make a trade, and he further reports that one club has offered Denver a package headlined by a first-round pick in exchange for Chubb. Even though two of Chubb’s first four professional seasons were marred by injury, his fifth season has proven that, when healthy, he is one of the game’s better edge defenders. Through seven games in 2022, he has posted 5.5 sacks and two forced fumbles.

As Jones points out, Denver would almost certainly not trade Chubb to the division-rival Chiefs, though the Rams would be a viable trade partner. LA, however, lacks a 2023 first-round pick due to last year’s Matthew Stafford trade, so it remains to be seen if it would be able to present Broncos GM George Paton with a winning offer. Jones says the Rams, as is their custom, are willing to trade future first-rounders.

Since Chubb is in the final year of his rookie contract, any acquiring club would want to work out a contract extension with him, according to Schefter. Of course, if Paton holds onto Chubb, he would want to come to terms on a multi-year pact as well (as Parker Gabriel of the Denver Post writes, Chubb is amenable to a contract that keeps him in the Mile High City for the long haul). Regardless of where he ends up, Chubb’s next deal is expected to pay him more than $20MM on an annual basis.

Other pass rushers that could be available for the Chiefs and Rams include players like the Panthers’ Brian Burns and the Jaguars’ Josh Allen. Jones echoes recent reports that Carolina seems unwilling to move Burns, and the NFL.com trio of Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero, and Mike Garafolo report that Jacksonville wants to retain Allen, whom it views as a foundational piece.

While Chubb could be dealt, Schefter says the Broncos do not plan to trade wideouts Jerry Jeudy and KJ Hamler. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, meanwhile, is still likely to be traded, per Troy Renck of Denver 7 (via Twitter). The asking price on Okwuegbunam is “minimal.”

Latest On Panthers, Brian Burns

After dealing Robbie Anderson and Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers seem unwilling to strip away pieces from their homegrown young core. Brian Burns‘ name has headlined this group, but teams have still discussed the fourth-year defensive end with the Panthers.

The Panthers look to have made it known they do not want to deal Burns, and Adam Schefter of ESPN.com noting the team turned down an offer of two first-round picks for the Pro Bowl pass rusher. Burns would make for a lower-profile addition to the exclusive club of defenders dealt for two first-round picks in recent years. Khalil Mack, Jalen Ramsey and Jamal Adams each had an All-Pro nod on their respective resumes by the time they were moved for packages fronted by two first-rounders. Burns is a one-time Pro Bowler.

That report also surprised various teams around the league. A high-ranking exec said the Panthers wanted first- and second-round picks for Burns during his team’s talks with Carolina, per Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. Other evaluators surveyed here believe that if the Panthers were indeed offered two firsts for Burns they should take it, JLC adds. Burns, 24, is moving toward a second Pro Bowl season, but the former first-rounder has yet to cross the 10-sack barrier in a campaign.

Still, the Panthers should be considered unlikely to deal Burns, D.J. Moore or Jeremy Chinn. The Panthers have also told teams they are not trading Derrick Brown or Jaycee Horn, Schefter adds. Brown can be controlled through 2024 and Horn through 2025, via the fifth-year option. The Panthers have made Shaq Thompson available, but the Burns-Chinn-Moore-Brown core — which is naturally more appealing to teams due to the performers’ ages — is being protected. The Panthers continue to discuss Moore with teams, however, La Canfora adds. Thus far, the team is resisting this trade interest.

The Rams are viewed as a team likely to have made a strong offer for Burns, La Canfora adds, with The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue indicating the team should be expected to pursue edge players before the deadline (Twitter link). Los Angeles has acquired Ramsey, Von Miller and Dante Fowler at recent trade deadlines, using Day 1 and Day 2 picks to land these defenders. The Fowler and Miller moves helped those respective Rams editions to Super Bowls. The Rams do not have their 2023 first-round pick. That would seem to impact any Burns pursuit, though the team could likely land other potentially available edges without a first-rounder being necessary.

Miller choosing the Bills in free agency set back the Rams’ pass rush, however. Leonard Floyd entered the season as the defending champions’ top edge rusher; the $16MM-per-year sack artist is sackless through six games. Although Ramsey and off-ball linebacker Bobby Wagner have two sacks apiece, Aaron Donald (four) is the only Rams rusher to have registered more than one sack this season.

Carolina has added three 2023 picks, two 2024 choices and a 2025 selection for dealing McCaffrey and Anderson. Moving Thompson, 28, would add to this growing draft arsenal. But Carolina’s collection of young talent — on display during the team’s 21-3 Week 7 win over the Buccaneers — figures to still come up in conversations ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline. Trading one of those players could move the needle further for GM Scott Fitterer, a Matt Rhule-era hire who should not be considered — based on how David Tepper proceeded with former GM Marty Hurney during Rhule’s time — a lock to be the one making these draft picks. That said, Tepper backed Fitterer in the wake of Rhule’s firing.

Panthers GM: Would Need ‘Astronomical’ Return To Trade Certain Players

Although the Panthers have stopped short of full fire-sale mode, the trade of Christian McCaffrey does send off signals big names can be obtained. But Scott Fitterer attempted to cool off any rumors of that sort in the wake of the All-Pro running back’s departure.

McCaffrey drew interest and fetched a four-pick trade package — far shy of the Cowboys’ franchise-changing Herschel Walker haul but more than the Colts collected for Marshall Faulk — but Panthers that play higher-value positions have steadily generated interest since Matt Rhule‘s firing. Fitterer stopped short of taking those players off the market but indicated they probably cannot be had.

There’s players on this team that I really don’t want to trade, I know this organization does not want to trade,” Fitterer said Friday. “It would have to take something astronomical. But I think moving forward, we like where we’re at. We like our young players.”

It is fairly safe to assume D.J. Moore and Brian Burns qualify for the “astronomical” classifier. The Panthers view Moore as a foundational piece, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (on Twitter). Burns could be in play, but Albert Breer of SI.com tweets it would take something like two first-round picks to pull off such a deal.

This year further educated the football-following public on wide receiver availability. Davante Adams, Tyreek Hill, A.J. Brown and Marquise Brown went for packages headlined by first-round picks. Given the buzz attached to Moore since Rhule’s firing, the Panthers likely would hold out for a compensation haul featuring a first-rounder and then some. Moore, 25, has back-to-back-to-back 1,100-yard seasons on his resume, reaching this benchmark consistently despite Carolina’s quarterback inconsistency. The Panthers gave him a three-year, $61.9MM extension in March.

Burns’ profile (one Pro Bowl) would not put him in the club of recent non-quarterbacks who commanded two first-round picks. Khalil Mack, Jalen Ramsey and Jamal Adams each had an All-Pro notch on their respective belts when they were traded for two first-rounders. Laremy Tunsil was moved without this accolade, however. Still, it is difficult to see a team betting that much on Burns at this point. He has not hit double-digit sacks in a season yet. The Panthers have been ready to re-up Burns for a bit now, though the team held off on doing an extension this year. Burns, 24, can drive up his extension price by continuing on his current pace.

Drafted during Rhule’s run, Derrick Brown is believed to be included in Carolina’s no-trade class. Shaq Thompson, the team’s longest-tenured player, is not. It will be interesting to see, especially now that McCaffrey is gone, if Thompson is moved before the Nov. 1 deadline. Players like cornerback Donte Jackson and offensive lineman Cameron Erving could be candidates as well, Joe Person of The Athletic offers (subscription required). Jeremy Chinn and Jaycee Horn can also be included among the core players Carolina does not want to trade, Person adds.

More players being sent away would naturally increase the chances the Panthers score a top-five draft choice. Carolina has not held such draft real estate since 2011, when it chose Cam Newton first overall. Hired during Rhule’s second offseason, Fitterer expects to be around when the team finds Rhule’s successor, Cameron Wolfe of NFL.com tweets. David Tepper endorsed Fitterer this week and said he wants more balance regarding HC-GM decision-making, after Rhule held roster control during his tenure. Though, it probably cannot be considered a lock the second-year GM is back. Tepper fired GM Marty Hurney months after greenlighting a Rhule-Hurney arranged partnership. But Fitterer is running the show regarding Panthers trades. The longtime Seahawks exec has doubled the Panthers’ 2023 draft arsenal over the first four rounds, running it to six via the McCaffrey swap.

Panthers Willing To Trade LB Shaq Thompson

The last Panther left from the team’s Super Bowl 50 lineup, Shaq Thompson has started all six Carolina games this season. The Ron Rivera-era investment is the franchise’s longest-tenured starter by two seasons.

As Carolina transitions away from its Matt Rhule period, Thompson is a player that could be moved. The Panthers are willing to listen to trade offers for the eighth-year linebacker, Albert Breer of SI.com notes. Thompson joins Christian McCaffrey, the team’s longest-tenured offensive starter, in being mentioned as a trade chip for the retooling team.

Brian Burns and D.J. Moore continue to generate the most interest, per Breer (on Twitter), but the team appears set against moving its top pass rusher and wide receiver. Burns remains on a rookie contract, while Moore just signed an extension in March. Thompson’s second contract came back in 2019 — a four-year, $54.16MM deal.

While Burns and Moore’s statuses stop the Panthers short of a full-on firesale, the presences of McCaffrey and Thompson on the trade block — after Robbie Anderson was dealt — make this one of the more interesting pre-deadline situations in recent years.

Like McCaffrey, Thompson could appeal as a 2022 trade piece due to a restructure agreement. To create cap space earlier this year, Carolina reduced Thompson’s base salary to $1.12MM. A team that acquired the 28-year-old linebacker would be responsible for less than $800K of his veteran-minimum wage. Thompson’s contract arrangement is somewhat similar to McCaffrey’s, only the defender’s future nonguaranteed salaries only run through 2023 rather than 2025. Thompson is due $12.36MM next year.

The Panthers trading Thompson now would cost them $11.27MM in dead money while saving barely $1MM. But the 95-game starter could produce additional draft assets that would make such a hit more palatable to a Panthers team not in position to contend this season.

Brought in to play alongside Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, Thompson joined the acclaimed duo as a rookie-year starter — albeit in a non-three-down capacity — during the team’s 15-1 2015 season. Kuechly’s unexpected retirement following the 2019 campaign thrust Thompson into an anchor role on Carolina’s defensive second level, and he has displayed decent durability both before and after that role change came to pass. The Washington alum has never missed more than three games in a season.

Pro Football Focus ranks Thompson as a top-five linebacker against the run this year. Although Thompson has 11.5 career sacks and three 100-plus-tackle seasons, he has never made a Pro Bowl. He joins Rhule pickups Cory Littleton and Frankie Luvu as the team’s primary linebackers. Considering Littleton’s one-year deal and Thompson’s high 2023 cap number, linebacker stands to be one of the Panthers’ needs next year.

Teams Calling Panthers On Christian McCaffrey; WR Robbie Anderson Available

As they did this spring, the Panthers are receiving calls on Christian McCaffrey‘s potential availability. While the team is listening to offers for the former All-Pro running back, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com notes it shut down multiple inquiries recently.

Matt Rhule‘s firing may or may not have spurred these calls, with Schefter adding the Panthers discussed McCaffrey with multiple teams last week. Carolina rebuffed two teams on CMC at that point and is not planning to accept a below-market trade just to move the sixth-year back, Schefter adds. But McCaffrey trade buzz has been building over the past several days.

The Panthers have received “many calls” on players in the wake of Rhule’s firing, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com reports, but McCaffrey has generated the most interest. CMC is tied to the four-year, $64MM extension he signed back in April 2020. It will take an “overwhelming” return to convince Carolina to move on from its longtime running back, Rapoport adds. This reminds of the team’s ask when McCaffrey’s name came up in trades in March. The Panthers wanted a first-round pick and a player on a manageable deal at that point.

McCaffrey profiles as perhaps the Panthers’ most interesting trade candidate, due to his profile and the unlikelihood the Panthers part ways with Brian Burns or D.J. Moore. While the latter duo look like longer-term Panthers cogs, due to age an positional value, McCaffrey is still just 26. And he has played in each of Carolina’s five games this season, temporarily minimizing concerns about his extensive injury past. Moore indeed is being viewed as untradeable, Rapoport adds, with the recently extended wideout being considered a big part of the franchise’s future. Carolina is also resistant to move pieces off its rebuilt offensive line, per Rapoport.

Burns and defensive tackle Derrick Brown are not believed to be on the table, Schefter adds (on Twitter). Teams are understandably interested in both young D-linemen, but each makes sense as a player the Panthers want to build around beyond 2022. The franchise has a different stance on Robbie Anderson, whom Rapoport and Schefter identify as a player who could be had in a trade. Conversations have occurred on Anderson, per Schefter.

Anderson, one of the many Temple alums who joined the team during Rhule’s tenure, has underwhelmed since a strong 2020 Carolina debut. Still, the ex-Jet deep threat posted a 95-catch, 1,096-yard season in 2020, enticing the Panthers to extend him. Anderson is signed through the 2023 season, via the two-year, $29.5MM extension he signed in 2021.

The former UDFA, who is going through his age-29 season, is tied to just a $1MM base salary this year. Carolina restructured Anderson’s contract this offseason. The deal calls for a nonguaranteed $8.8MM salary in 2023. The restructure could make Anderson, his recent struggles (albeit with a bottom-end quarterback situation) notwithstanding, an interesting trade chip. Anderson, who totaled just 519 yards in 2021 despite playing 17 games, has 13 receptions for 206 yards this year. Anderson came up in trade talks with the Patriots this offseason, but New England moved on with a DeVante Parker swap.

McCaffrey, whose deal runs through 2025, has appeared on Carolina’s injury report multiple times but has not run into the kind of trouble he experienced over the past two years. Multiple leg injuries led to McCaffrey missing 23 games since 2020, weakening Carolina’s Rhule-era offense. He has amassed 512 scrimmage yards and scored three touchdowns this season.

No guaranteed money remains on McCaffrey’s deal beyond 2022, and thanks to a 2022 restructure, he is also down to a league-minimum salary this season. The second-generation NFLer is due $11.8MM in 2023 and ’24, however, and $12MM in 2025. It would cost the Panthers $7.6MM in dead money if they dealt McCaffrey before the Nov. 1 deadline.

Panthers Not Looking To Trade Christian McCaffrey, D.J. Moore, Brian Burns

Early in the fallout from Matt Rhule‘s firing, reports emerged pointing the Panthers to a potential firesale. A day later, a Carolina potential trade-block flood seems less likely.

The Panthers are not actively shopping Christian McCaffrey, according to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe (subscription required). Multiple reports indicated the former All-Pro running back would be a name to monitor ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline, and while Tuesday’s latest does not slam the door on McCaffrey being moved, Howe notes the team wants to build around its young core rather than dismantle it.

This does not mean interest has not come in. Teams have inquired about wideout D.J. Moore and edge rusher Brian Burns, according to SI.com’s Albert Breer. The Panthers have not shown a willingness to part with either starter, Breer adds, but these two names have generated the most interest thus far.

Additionally, the Bills have not contacted the Panthers regarding McCaffrey’s availability, Howe notes. Run by ex-Carolina staffers Brandon Beane and Sean McDermott, Buffalo has acquired many former Panthers. But a move to land the $16MM-per-year back, months after drafting James Cook in the second round, may be a bridge too far for now.

[RELATED: Panthers Fire DC Phil Snow; Al Holcomb To Call Plays]

Carolina just extended Moore — on a three-year, $61.88MM deal — and have expressed a desire to pay Burns, who will enter his fifth-year option season in 2023. Both players were acquired before Rhule arrived, even though the since-fired HC signed off on Moore’s extension this March. Although Carolina’s quarterback issues have restrained its passing attack, Moore, 25, has continued to produce. He topped 1,100 receiving yards in each season from 2019-21. This year, however, the former first-round pick’s stats are down (197 yards through five games). Burns, 24, has four sacks and six QB hits. He will be on track to become one of the league’s highest-paid edge defenders come 2023, and it looks like the Panthers want to be the team authorizing that contract.

Neither interim HC Steve Wilks nor new Panthers defensive play-caller Al Holcomb were in place when either player was drafted. Ditto GM Scott Fitterer. But it would still surprise to see Carolina deal away two mid-20s cornerstones this season. Doing so would indeed signal David Tepper signing off on a full-scale rebuild.

McCaffrey is currently healthy, marking his longest run of availability during the 2020s. Injuries sidetracked the former top-10 pick’s career following his dominant 2019 season — one that set him up for the still-market-topping extension he signed in April 2020 — but the sixth-year back obviously remains one of the Panthers’ best players. McCaffrey, 26, is not on his 2019 pace (2,392 yards from scrimmage), posting only 512 scrimmage yards in five games. But his health has certainly brought better news compared to his previous two seasons — when the second-generation pro missed 23 games.

The team restructured McCaffrey’s deal, reducing his 2022 base salary to barely $1MM, and listened to trade inquiries this offseason. Given McCaffrey’s health history, the team’s willingness to do a deal and the kind of offers that come in will be interesting as the deadline nears. For now, however, the Panthers are sitting tight with CMC. Three more seasons remain on McCaffrey’s contract. His salaries spike to $11.8MM (in 2023 and ’24) and $12MM (2025).

Panthers’ Post-Rhule Fallout: Termination, Replacement, Trades

The NFL news circuit was set ablaze today when news broke of the firings of Panthers head coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. The termination of Rhule was not necessarily a surprise, as he’s been firmly on the hot seat all year and the possibility of firing Rhule had been discussed “well before” today, according to Josina Anderson of CBS Sports, but it did create a newsworthy fallout of information that is of interest to those who follow the sport.

Many have talked about the contract implications of Rhule’s termination, alluding to the millions of dollars still remaining on his contract. While it’s completely applicable to Rhule’s situation, it doesn’t sound like it is a concern to Carolina. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweeted out that “Carolina is on the hook for this season, but the salaries for the ensuing seasons are offset by what his future college job pays him.” Essentially, Rhule will absolutely get his guaranteed money, but the onus won’t be on Carolina to pay it. Whenever Rhule, who is presumed to be a top college coaching candidate for next year, gets another job, his salary from the new school will offset the amount the Panthers owe him.

It was also announced that Panthers defensive passing game coordinator & secondary coach Steve Wilks will sub in as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The defensive-minded former head coach of the Cardinals has apparently already begun to make the team his own. When Panthers owner David Tepper was asked why Snow was fired, he reportedly pointed the finger at Wilks, telling reporters to direct that question to the interim head coach, according to ESPN’s David Newton.

Here are a few more fallout items from today, starting with some ideas on Rhule’s replacement:

  • The biggest nugget to come out of today concerning Carolina is that, as most NFL executives expected Rhule to lose his job, many in league circles are expecting the Panthers to start dealing veteran assets in an attempt to accrue draft capital that might make the head coaching position more attractive, according to Jason La Canfora of the Washington Post. The Panthers currently only hold four draft picks for 2023: first-, second-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, supporting the idea that trading away veterans could improve their current situation. Trading away veterans with expensive contracts, such as star running back Christian McCaffrey or wide receiver Robbie Anderson, could prove troublesome, according to La Canfora, so the Panthers are reportedly willing to eat some of those salaries in order to facilitate moving those assets. Early reports claimed that the Bills have reached out about McCaffrey and that they did in the offseason, as well, according to Person, but Tom Pelissero of NFL Network clarified that, while every team will be calling about McCaffrey, the Panthers haven’t engaged in any trade talks yet. In addition to McCaffrey and Anderson, Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports expects wide receiver D.J. Moore, defensive end Brian Burns, and defensive tackle Derrick Brown to be on the table.
  • Jeff Howe of The Athletic posed the question today of who might replace Rhule and offered quite a few suggestions. Howe started the list with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn who took the Falcons to the Super Bowl as head coach in 2016. Next, he mentioned 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. Ryans interviewed for the Vikings’ job this offseason and was expected to interview for the Raiders’, as well. The 38-year-old has rocketed up coaching boards since retiring as a player in 2015. Another name mentioned was Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon who also interviewed for the Vikings last year, in addition to the Texans and Broncos. Howe went into great detail on every candidate, seeming to list anybody who may be up for a head coaching job in the next few seasons. His list included former NFL head coaches including the retired Sean Payton, Steelers senior defensive assistant and linebackers coach Brian Flores, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier, and former Colts and Lions head coach Jim Caldwell, as well as the current interim head coach, Wilks. Other serious candidates Howe mentioned were Rams defensive coordinator Raheem Morris, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Eagles offensive coordinator Shane Steichen, Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo, and Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham. The list essentially devolved into an article about anybody who may make the jump to NFL head coach in the next few seasons, pointing out “wait and see” candidates such as Rams offensive coordinator Liam Coen, Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich, Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo, Bills offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey, Giants offensive coordinator Mike Kafka, Dolphins offensive coordinator Frank Smith, Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, Broncos defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero, Jaguars defensive coordinator Mike Caldwell, and Giants defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale.
  • One interesting name that came out of today’s rumors was former Panthers All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly. Joe Person of The Athletic advised that an eye be kept on Kuechly, who remains close with Wilks and new defensive coordinator Al Holcomb, to come back in some capacity. After retiring from a pro scout position last year, Kuechly has been working as an analyst on Panthers radio broadcasts.