Panthers reportedly turned down two first-round picks for Brian Burns

When it comes to NFL players who are so valuable to their current teams that they would never be traded for any amount of compensation, few at any given moment are truly untouchable.

Fresh from trading away running back Christian McCaffrey, the Panthers are trying to persuade other teams that four Carolina players are. Even if they aren’t.

Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the Panthers have informed curious teams that pass rusher Brian Burns, receiver DJ Moore, defensive lineman Derrick Brown, and cornerback Jaycee Horn will not be traded.

Schefter adds that an unnamed team offered the Panthers two first-round picks for Burns, and that the Panthers rejected it. Without knowing the team, of course, it’s impossible to fully evaluate the offer, since there’s no way of knowing whether the first-round selections would be expected to land higher or lower in the first rounds of the next two drafts.

It’s also impossible to know whether the picks were 2023 and 2024 first-round selections. The offer may have been 2023 and 2025, or 2024 and 2025.

More broadly speaking, it’s also impossible to know whether an offer was ever even made. The Panthers could be putting this out there to a Sunday Splash! sleuth (whose willing cooperation will lead to more scoops) in order to set the floor for any offers that may come in the next nine days.

Although his article doesn’t contain the magic words, Schefter’s tweet does. “Carolina now has no intention of trading” the four players.

As everybody who follows football knows, intentions can and do change. Especially after the team itself says it has “no intention.”

At this point, there may be only two or three truly untouchable players in the NFL. Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, and maybe Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. For every other player, there’s surely an offer to which the player’s current team would say yes. Whether such an offer would ever come is a different issue.

For the Panthers, will an offer come that gets them to say yes as to one or more of their not-untouchable players? That’s the real question.

Owner David Tepper didn’t make so much money by being stupid. If it looks like the Panthers are having a fire sale, the offers will reflect that vibe. If, on the other hand, he’s truly committed to stockpiling the kind of assets that will allow him to hire the coach of his choice (even if it means trading for him) and to let that coach draft the player of his choice, creating the very clear impression that the Panthers are not giving away their best players will help him get there.

If the offers come. Offers good enough to get the Panthers to alter their current “intention.”

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