CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Luke Kuechly retiring, Matt Rhule hiring and Greg Olsen not welcome back. It's been an insane offseason for the Carolina Panthers and that's before we even get to the ongoing Cam Newton uncertainty.
One more log was added to the fire Wednesday as the news hit that the franchise was trading 5-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Trai Turner to the Los Angeles Chargers in return for 2-time Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung. It's the kind of star player for star player deal you rarely see in the NFL and upon first view, is a bit of a puzzler where the Panthers are concerned. Turner after all is 4 years younger than Okung and has been one of the rare dependable pieces on the Panthers offensive line.
After asking around, there are some reasons why the Panthers made this move. 2nd round pick Greg Little, the man the franchise was hoping would lock down the left tackle position for years to come, was unable to stay on the field his rookie year. Multiple concussions and other injury issues made it unclear whether he can actually be the foundational piece at a foundational position that the Panthers had hoped. Fellow rookie Dennis Daley was ok in spots, but certainly not a guy you'd peg as a full-time starter.
Enter Okung. He's a high-level, dependable, and only has one year left on his contract. That gives the Panthers salary cap flexibility going forward. Absent a blood clot situation last year, Okung's played in at least 13 of the 16 games the previous 5 seasons. He's started every game of his NFL career.
As for Turner, while still one among the league's best at his position, and just entering his prime, his level had dipped the past couple years and he was looking for a new, long-term contract that the Panthers clearly weren't in the mood to hand out. Maybe Matt Rhule wasn't a fan, who knows. The Chargers are certainly thinking they got the better side of the deal, given the relative ages of the players.
As for Trai - he seemed something less than heartbroken to be heading to LA:
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