Panthers plan to 'add to' quarterback room, haven't received calls about possible trade

The Carolina Panthers don't have a firm answer at quarterback.

They have options, but lack clarity at this point in the offseason, which means it's likely the Panthers will add to the position in the offseason. General manager Scott Fitterer said as much Friday, while also including those still on the roster -- Sam Darnold and P.J. Walker -- in consideration for 2022.

"Yeah. The whole key is bringing Sam along," Fitterer said of Darnold when asked if he was comfortable with him as the team's quarterback. "We threw him last year, kinda limited OTAs and everything that we had. You know, we have to develop our own guys and P.J. Walker, as well. But I think we will look to add to the group, as well. That's one emphasis going into this, whether it's through the draft, trade, whatever it may be, we're going to add to the room."

Adding to the room could mean via free agency, trade, or the NFL draft.

The latter seems the most likely, especially as the Panthers have made sure to be front and center at each and almost every pro day workout featuring a top signal-caller in this class. Fitterer and coach Matt Rhule were in Pittsburgh to watch Kenny Pickett's workout, and in Lynchburg, Virginia, to watch Liberty quarterback Malik Willis' workout. Rhule stood front and center behind Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral during his pro day workout this week.

Sitting in the sixth spot in the first round of the draft, Carolina could be the first team to take a quarterback, meaning the Panthers might have their choice of the available prospects.

Carolina has also been busy in the offseason, adding pieces to both sides of the ball with the intent to provide as much freedom as possible to select the player they want most at No. 6. Their work has Fitterer "excited" about how it "frees us up for the draft, so we can go multiple ways with that first pick."

It seems most signs are pointing toward selecting a quarterback. If so, the Panthers could be looking at sending a rookie out with the starters in Week 1, a possibility with which Fitterer seems comfortable.

"I think all these guys are capable of being starters," Fitterer said. "I think once you get them you develop a plan of how you want to deal with them. We're starting that process now, 'Hey, what can we do?' Ideally, every quarterback, no matter what it would be, whoever it is, would sit a little while and learn, however, when it's time it's time, and they'll let you know."

But what if Carolina finds a suitable option via trade?

Baker Mayfield and Jimmy Garoppolo remain available via trade, though the Panthers haven't indicated they're interested in either player.

"Haven't had any conversations recently with teams about that," Fitterer said. "I think we'll explore every option, whether it's the draft or trades. It's just, the team's gotta call you and nobody's called us recently about that."

The Panthers could, of course, initiate such discussions by picking up the phone and placing a call to San Francisco or Cleveland. It seems they're content with waiting for one of those clubs (or others) to dial them, though, lessening the chance they'll make a move prior to the draft.

As for those who played for the Panthers in 2021, Carolina doesn't seem very committed to any of them -- including Cam Newton.

"Matt's talked to Cam. So I've reached out a couple times. Matt talked to him," Fitterer said. "The thing with Cam, it's gotta be a fit for us and it's gotta be a fit for him, just as well. He's looking for a certain opportunity. The door's still open for us. We're very open to Cam, we'll see where it goes. He knows where we stand. I think he and Matt had a very good conversation, from my understanding. And so, yeah, we'll just see where it goes."

Darnold seems to be on slightly firmer footing with the Panthers' front office, but not by much. He can safely expect to be pushed by competition brought in from outside the organization -- if he's still with the team by the time training camp arrives.

"Yes, Sam's on the roster. As I sit here right now, he's on the roster," Fitterer said. "He's in the lead for that job. We want him to take it and run with it. But we're gonna add a lot of competition to that room. The whole emphasis is to stabilize that quarterback positions and playing winning football, and that's what we're working towards."

There's plenty still left to figure out in Charlotte, but if we learned anything from Friday's presser, it's that the Panthers are confident with where they stand at just about every position except quarterback, a position they want to "stabilize" in 2022.

"Our whole goal is to win the NFC South every year. We want to compete every year," Fitterer said. "And I think that's the mindset we take. I think we're two steps closer this year, not just one step, I think we're two steps closer to really competing for this NFC South. With all the guys that we brought in, I think we're right there.

"If we can get the quarterback position stabilized, we're going to be competing for it."

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