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How I Would Handle the Panthers' Fire Sale After McCaffrey Trade

Editor's note: Having already fired their head coach, traded their All-Pro running back and one of their top receivers, the Carolina Panthers, at  1-5, have begun their fire sale. Former Minnesota Vikings GM Rick Spielman weighs in on possible next steps for Carolina in the days leading up to the Nov. 1 trade deadline.

The No. 1 priority for the Panthers moving forward should be acquiring a franchise quarterback, and the 2023 draft class would be a pretty good place to fill that void. If the Panthers go into full fire-sale mode, expect most teams to pursue the team's veterans in the days leading up to the Nov. 1 trade deadline.

If I was in Carolina's situation, I would be trying to push out my veterans who would get the most value in draft-pick compensation in return. That started Thursday night with the trade of Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers in exchange for three picks in 2023 and another in 2024. With that move done, the Panthers could next look to move linebacker Shaq Thompson. He has one year remaining on his contract with a base salary of $12.36 million for 2023.

I would be cautious of moving some of the young pieces that are good football players, because then you'd be putting yourself into a full rebuild starting from scratch. Carolina has some very good young players like wide receiver DJ Moore, who was just extended in the offseason. Defensive end Brian Burns, another terrific young defender and an excellent pass rusher, is under contract through 2023 on his fifth-year option. Third-year defensive tackle Derrick Brown is another talented young player who has two years left on his rookie deal.

Ideally, the Panthers would be able to move more veteran players and get some value for them by adding more draft capital. Before the McCaffrey deal, they only had four 2023 picks (Rounds 1, 2, 4 and 5), and now they have seven.

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