Panthers thought they were acquiring Matthew Stafford in a trade

The Los Angeles Rams reportedly jumped in front of the Carolina Panthers to land Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Rams were the winners of the Matthew Stafford sweepstakes after agreeing to trade future first-round picks, a third-rounder and quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions. After the deal became official, the identities of other prospective teams that were in the running for Stafford surfaced, including the Washington Football Team and Indianapolis Colts.

As it turns out, no team was closer to landing Stafford than the Carolina Panthers.

According to Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, the Panthers were about to receive Stafford’s medical records from the Lions on Saturday. But then, the Rams entered the sweepstakes with their offer and won out.

Panthers oh so close to getting Stafford

In Breer’s piece about the Stafford trade negotiations, Carolina and Washington emerged as the initial favorites. The Panthers were said to have offered their eighth-overall pick and a late round selection to Detroit in exchange for Stafford, while Washington offered their 19th-overall selection and a third-round pick.

What really helped the Rams win was Stafford’s desire to play with head coach Sean McVay, who is seen as the brightest offensive mind in the NFL. Los Angeles had, by far, the best offer with multiple first-round picks and a third-rounder with the caveat of taking on Goff’s contract, in which $43 million is fully guaranteed over the next two seasons. Additionally, new Lions general manger Brad Holmes was formerly the director of scouting for the Rams (2013-20) and “banged on the table” for the team to trade up to the first-overall spot in the 2016 NFL Draft to select Goff, per Chris Burke of The Athletic.

Carolina is in the market for a new quarterback after head coach Matt Rhule was noncommittal on Teddy Bridgewater being the starter for 2021. Hence why they were willing to part ways with their first-rounder this year for Stafford.

While the Panthers missed out on the former 2009 first-overall pick, they are not down and out just yet. There is still the potential that the Houston Texans cave in to Deshaun Watson’s reported trade demands. According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, the Panthers will be “aggressive” in their pursuit of Watson this offseason.

One way or another, it appears the Panthers are going to get a new signal caller for the upcoming season. But let the record show that they were very close to landing Stafford this past Saturday.