We've arrived at a quiet stretch of the NFL offseason, with most notable free agents signed and the draft in the rearview mirror.
The rumor mill may not be churning out much right now, but that certainly doesn't mean there won't be any trades prior to the start of the 2022 season. Several players are still ideal candidates to be dealt over the next few months.
Whether these stars are unhappy with their current employer, became replaceable through the draft or are nearing the end of their contract and likely to depart following the campaign, teams may be willing to move on from them sooner than later.
There are plenty of organizations still looking to plug holes along their rosters, even after acquiring a slew of new talent through the draft.
With that in mind, let's try to play matchmaker and highlight a handful of trade ideas that would benefit both parties before the 2022 campaign gets underway.
Jimmy Garoppolo to Carolina Panthers
- Carolina Panthers receive: QB Jimmy Garoppolo
- San Francisco 49ers receive: Carolina's 2023 second-round pick
The 2022 NFL draft came and went without a conclusion to the San Francisco 49ers' ongoing quarterback drama.
Despite reports that the Niners have been "continually underwhelmed" by Trey Lance's development, the squad still appears more than ready to move into the Lance era. San Francisco traded three first-round picks and a third-round selection to move up and get him at No. 3 overall last year but still has Jimmy Garoppolo lingering on the roster.
While Garoppolo's offseason shoulder surgery brought trade talks to a "screeching halt," the veteran QB's uncertain health shouldn't stop the Carolina Panthers from making a play for him this offseason.
The Panthers have positioned themselves to become a legitimate contender with the right quarterback. The team addressed arguably its biggest weakness by improving the offensive line this offseason, drafting Ikem Ekwonwu and Cade Mays and signing Austin Corbett and Bradley Bozeman to bolster a unit that Sam Monson of PFF ranked No. 31 last season.
Unfortunately, Carolina doesn't have a suitable signal-caller for its revamped line to protect. Sam Darnold is the only experienced option under contract at this juncture, but the 24-year-old struggled in his first season with the club before suffering a significant shoulder injury.
The team also picked up Matt Corral in the third round, but the Ole Miss prospect will need some time to hone his craft before becoming ready to start.
Garoppolo could serve as a bridge quarterback and capable starter who could have the Panthers competing for their first postseason appearance since 2017.
One hurdle the 49ers need to overcome is Garoppolo's massive salary for the 2022 season. The 30-year-old has a cap hit of nearly $27 million in the final season of his deal. Fortunately, the Panthers can absorb that large contract, with their $30-plus million in projected cap space currently ranking the most in the league.
Given Garoppolo's experience and proven record of success—he led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game or deeper in each of his past two healthy seasons—Carolina should be willing to kick over a second-round pick to get this deal done.