How will the Carolina Panthers owning the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft impact the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as powers begin to shift in the NFC South?
As it stands now, the No. 1 pick in this year’s NFL Draft will be made by a team in the NFC South but it won’t be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers making the selection.
The Carolina Panthers made a blockbuster trade to acquire the No. 1 pick from the Chicago Bears this week, catapulting them to the top of the draft and putting them in a position to select the top quarterback in this year’s class.
On the surface, this doesn’t seem great for the Bucs. A divisional rival adding a franchise quarterback puts Tampa Bay in the backseat, at least on paper, and doesn’t do much to conjure up positivity about the future.
The optics certainly aren’t great. Tampa Bay was already facing an offseason of uncomfortable change, while the team is losing guys like Tom Brady and Lavonte David the Panthers are adding someone who could be the best quarterback in the division for the next decade.
Before anyone presses the panic button — which is admittedly easy to do as a knee-jerk reaction to all of this — let’s take a step back and assess the situation.
What does it mean for the Bucs now, what does it mean for the future, and how does the Carolina Panthers trading for the No. 1 pick impact the Buccaneers moving forward?
Buccaneers won’t be trading for Justin Fields
This one seems obvious, but the moment Chicago traded the No. 1 pick to Carolina it locked Justin Fields in as the team’s franchise quarterback — at least for now. The Bears were playing a dangerous game of making it seem like they were interested in a quarterback in order to drive the price of the pick.
Now that the Panthers have the pick, Chicago isn’t going to be trading Fields this season which means any potential hail mary chance the Bucs had no longer exists. Things could pick back up next year, though, as the Bears are likely to have another top pick with the Panthers unlikely to do much winning in 2023, which might put them back in the same position of deciding whether to keep Fields or draft someone like Caleb Williams — only Fields will be a lot cheaper next season if the Bears decide to move off him.