"It's a heavy draft and it was an opportunity for us to move up. To you guys, eight spots doesn't seem like much. But to me, it's gold," Gettleman said, via the Charlotte Observer.
He added: "You've got to give up something to get something. You're not fooling anybody anymore. There's too much film available. We just wanted to move up and get another second-round pick. I think it gives us more flexibility."
This was, on the front end, a nice way for Gettleman to distance himself from Ealy without criticizing the dynamic former second-round pick, though it does put the fearless general manager in a precarious position. Rationalizing a trade to move up eight slots suggests there is someone in particular who you are targeting and expect to be there. At the least, it suggests that one of a few people you hope are there can contribute right away significantly.
Ealy was not a perfect player, but his ability to get to the quarterback was undeniable. If the Panthers had won Super Bowl 50, there's a chance Ealy would have been named MVP despite playing just a handful of snaps. Carolina already got rid of one exceptional homegrown defensive talent in Josh Norman last year and could see Ealy come back to bite them inside the Patriots' versatile front.