Could Panthers be active at trade deadline?

The NFL’s trading deadline is next Tuesday. Historically, not a lot happens because trades aren’t as common in the NFL as they are in the NBA and Major League Baseball.

Still, it’s fun to speculate about potential trades. Plus, I think this is one year where we could see some deadline movement in the NFC South.

I can pretty much promise you we won’t see any trades (at least nothing major) out of the Atlanta Falcons, New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Carolina Panthers, however, could be a different story. Their playoff hopes are done, they just fired general manager Marty Hurney and all they have to look forward to is next year.

They’ve got some big-name players other teams might want and it could bring extra draft picks to the Panthers, who obviously will be looking to add all the talent they can in the offseason. The Panthers don’t technically have a general manager right now, but Hurney’s former lieutenants are working in a committee approach with coach Ron Rivera, and owner Jerry Richardson also could get involved in this situation.

So let’s examine some possibilities. It’s only a speculative piece, but Jason Smith writes that the Panthers should trade receiver Steve Smith to Detroit for a third-round pick. That might be something the Panthers and the veteran receiver might be open to. At the end of the John Fox era, Smith wasn’t happy with the way things were going and there was some noise about him wanting out. Smith probably isn’t too thrilled with the way things have transpired this season.

Smith has deep roots in Charlotte, but he’s also a competitive guy who doesn’t like being part of a losing team. He’s close to Richardson and I think the owner might be willing to accommodate Smith, if he truly does want out. But I’m not sure Detroit would be an enticing destination for Smith. He grew up in Los Angeles and, if he wants to go anywhere, I’d imagine it would be to a West Coast team.

The other Carolina player that I get asked a lot about in potential trade scenarios is running back DeAngelo Williams. I think it’s possible the Panthers would consider trading him. They’re not using him a lot and they have depth in the backfield with Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert.

Williams is closing in on 30 and he has a big contract. Usually, those two would be enough to scare off potential interest. But Williams has enough left in the tank that he could help a team that’s desperate for a running back for a year or two, so I wouldn’t rule out a potential trade.