ESPN linked Broncos receiver Eric Decker to Carolina twice in the weekend - one on Sportscenter, and the other on Grantland. The two mentions might be coincidental, and Carolina will inevitably be linked to any receiver anyway (much greater, if/when Steve Smith is out of town).
The interesting mention is the Grantland piece that outlines how Jacksonville would be a case study for sacrificing cap space for future draft picks. The suggestion is - NBA style - that Carolina would come to terms on a $38 million, 4 year deal with $30 million of that guaranteed, but Decker would sign with Jacksonville. Jacksonville would then trade the receiver to Carolina for two first round picks, and for those two firsts, Jacksonville would take on the bonus proration of Decker's contract. Carolina would get a receiver worth far more, for $8 million over four years.
It's an interesting premise that the league would obviously not allow, but there are various other reasons why this is a bad idea. For one, the NBA's first round picks are somewhat trash. In a league where there might not be enough stars to fill out the first ten spots much less the full slot of lottery picks, people trade firsts all the time, and simply make them conditional to whether they'd be lottery picks. Those non-lottery conditional picks are so forgivable that a team would sit and wait for a year instead of get a lower pick. The NFL, of course, regularly delivers stars in the late first, it's not unrealistic to pickup starters in the 4th or 5th, and after 250 picks, players still have enough value at the end that you find teams bidding on them. It's a draft that, this year especially, could go an extra round and not be filled with junk.
Two, you're not going to find teams in the NFL be as pride-less as the NBA. In the NBA, a potential 7 or 8 seed is considered worthless, while the NFL is looking at adding more teams to their playoffs. You never really see, in an average year, teams take a dive the way NBA teams will. Teams will rally from lost-looking seasons to get near .500 in the NFL for next year's momentum. So, to that point, Jacksonville wouldn't ever handicap itself for a year to make the year after better. To a small level? Maybe, but it's still unlikely.
Teams hardly ever trade player for player, and even then like the Jonathan Baldwin/AJ Jenkins trade, it's for players that both had a pre-set value (their draft position) and had failures that suggested potential was still greater than production. Teams can never come to terms on player value, and they certainly wouldn't sell their cap space at equal rates.
Decker himself is interesting, and the offense is the same. The team concept is similar to Denver's. But Decker is a guy who peaked at the perfect time and his value is too high. That's not the guy you pick up for Carolina. You go get the guys who are lower rent but still able. Hakeem Nicks, supposedly free of injury for the first time in a while, seems open to a prove-it deal, but at this point I'm so tired of hearing that Nicks is a UNC guy and a former Giant. Sydney Rice clearly has something to prove, but he's so massively unreliable. James Jones doesn't have the weird baggage of the above, and he makes sense, but I figure he'll end up being wanted enough to not come to Carolina.
The national media's eager for there to be a hardcore weapon for Cam Newton, and at the least, that's a good sign. Newton is in the national narrative to where they're interested in his potential success, even for those that are skeptical of his ability. That's a good sign, especially as Carolina intrigues itself with the idea of handing over the largest contract in team history to him (no matter what happens with Greg Hardy, Newton will receive significantly more).