GM Fitterer: Panthers' belief in QB class led to trade for No. 1 pick
Carolina Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer said the franchise's belief in the quality of this year's quarterback class convinced him to trade up to the No. 1 pick.
"We wanted to put ourselves in position to get a quarterback," Fitterer said Monday, according to ESPN's David Newton.
He added that the franchise is "still going through the process" of determining who to select.
C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Anthony Richardson, and Will Levis are considered the top passing options ahead of the draft on April 27. Carolina plans to attend the pro day of each of the top four prospects in the coming weeks.
Carolina acquired the No. 1 selection in the 2023 draft from the Chicago Bears in a blockbuster trade earlier in March. The Panthers sent the Bears the No. 9 and No. 61 selections, a 2024 first-rounder, a 2025 second-round pick, and receiver D.J. Moore.
Discussions regarding the trade ramped up at the NFL Scouting Combine between Fitterer and Bears GM Ryan Poles. Fitterer said the cost of trading up to any pick from No. 9 would be steep due to so many teams having a need at quarterback.
The Panthers GM also revealed that the franchise was reluctant to part with Moore but said the Bears insisted the 25-year-old had to be part of the deal.
"It hurt, but you have to do what you have to do," Fitterer said, according to team reporter Darin Gantt.
Moore recorded three 1,000-plus-yard receiving campaigns for the Panthers in five seasons with the club.
Carolina has been active since the start of free agency, signing Hayden Hurst, Miles Sanders, and Adam Thielen to improve its targets in the passing game. The club also signed Andy Dalton as a veteran option at QB.
When asked if the team considered pursuing Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, Fitterer called him a "great (but) really expensive option," according to ESPN's Field Yates.
Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on Jackson, which would require any suitor for the former MVP to send two first-round picks to the Ravens if he signed an offer sheet that they opted not to match.
"We're more focused on the draft picks right now," Fitterer said.