Stewart Trade Still Smart
It won’t happen, but Jonathan Stewart is a guy I’d still trade.
It hurts to say, honestly. Stewart has been a fantastic back for Carolina in four years, proving as able and surprisingly more healthy than Deangelo Williams. Given the chance, he could easily best 1600 yards (and probably would have no problem pitching in 500+ receiving yards). He’ll never do that here, which is fine, because it’s not about personal accomplishment here.
But, from a business standpoint, Stewart should go.
With a year left on his rookie deal, he’s ready to be paid well, and who knows – Carolina may do that. They have a history of it. It’s something they apparently intend to do – even suggesting that adding Mike Tolbert as a future contingency plan if Stewart goes. Stewart could demand more than Williams – and Carolina could pay, giving what could be 1/6 of their cap to just two players. Two players that aren’t doing different things. Franchising him for a year or two would net fewer longterm issues, with no security. But at a very unfortunate cap number in those two years.
The other option, of course, is that Carolina lets Stewart walk and they receive nothing. Which is why a trade now should be lucrative, a shift of talent from being RB heavy to being able to afford other things, too. It might give Carolina the ability to go get two defenders in the top 50, without missing out on another offensive playmaker. It might give the team the ability to load up on three defenders in the same space.
The trade of Mike Goodson to Oakland essentially seals in our RBs for 2012 – Stewart and Williams at running back, Tolbert at fullback. Stewart remains, and the team is better for it now- but longterm, the cost seems greater with him than without.