This Panthers offseason could quite possibly be one of the most important ones in a while for Carolina. In this post, I will do my best to put the Panthers in the best situation to succeed. This will include re-signings, free agency, and the draft.
Bring Back the Big 2
One of the reasons Hurney was fired was due to his inability to get a deal done with Curtis Samuel or Taylor Moton. Both Moton and Samuel have proven their worth to this team with Samuel eclipsing 1000 scrimmage yards while Moton graded out to be one of the best right tackle in the league this year. Matt Rhule had plenty of praise for the both of them, saying this about Curtis Samuel:
"He's everything that I like in a football player. He's dynamic, he's athletic, he's explosive. But he's also tough, dependable, works hard, can be corrected, can be coached, really low-maintenance, great teammate, he's a football player. I can't say enough good things about Curtis.
"I think he's gone from being sort of an outside receiver to an all-purpose, all over the field type of guy. As I've said all year, he makes all the blocks, catches the ball, controls the middle of the field, runs the football, catches the ball out of the backfield. He's so tremendously versatile that people have a hard time distinguishing what personnel we are in. Are they in three receivers or two backs because of his ability to do both. I just think he's a dynamic player and is really dependable as well. I think he's tremendously reliable for us."
And this is what Rhule said about Moton about halfway through the season: “He’s had some really dominant moments,” Matt Rhule said last week about Moton. “I know he has been isolated in pass protections, he’s been good in the run game, he’s a solid guy that comes to work every day with a great attitude. He’s now had eight games under his belt of Pat’s [Meyer] style of offensive line play and I think he’s getting better at mastering the techniques that we’re asking him to do.”
These are two very important pieces to the Panther's offense that I believe need to come back.
Resigning a Few More Key Pieces
I believe that by their 2020 production, these 3 players need to come back for 2021 and beyond. When the Panthers picked up Rasul Douglas off waivers, we were optimistic but most of us Panthers fans had wanted the other young Eagles corner, Sidney Jones. However, this man played his first game in black and blue 2 or 3 days after being signed. He helped bring the locker room closer together the 1st week he'd been there. Though he did get burnt on a couple plays near the end of the season, I think Rasul is a quality component to our secondary that we should hold on to.
Efe Obada was once known as just a feel-good story. Once left on the streets of London, he was trafficked from Nigeria but made his way to America through the NFL International Player Program. Obada had a monster game in 2018 against the Bengals, in which he recorded a sack, TFL, and an interception. Then no one really heard much more about him. In 2020, he failed to make the initial 53-man roster, which many fans were upset about. Soon after, Rhule brought him back to the team within a week or two, and Efe just went off. This season, Obada has recorded 5.5 sacks, 4 TFL, 1 FF and 2 FR. He proved his worth to Phil Snow and his defense in both screaming from the edge but also being an inside rusher as a 3-tech. Obada is more than just a feel-good story; he is a quality situational pass rusher. Bring him back, Matt Rhule!
Last but not least, Mike Davis played admirably in the absence of superstar running back Christian McCaffrey. Recording 642 rushing yards and 6 TD, along with 373 receiving yards and 2 TD, Davis was a man running wild on gameday. He said in multiple press conferences that he runs "pissed off", and that was evident by his play on the field. While we hope McCaffrey doesn't get injured again, I think most Panthers fans would rest easy in that situation, knowing Mike Davis is carrying the rock in his place.
Letting go of another former cornerstone
While KK has provided us fans with lots of fond memories, once being one of the league's top interior defensive linemen, it is time to move on from the former Pro Bowler. The past 2 seasons Short has been marred by injuries to his shoulder, suffering two season-enders in a row. Some combination of Tepper, Rhule, and the front office, have shown a willingness to cut ties with fan favorites, and I don't think Short will be an exception, especially when considering they can save around 14.5 million with his release.
Releasing our veteran punter
I think this move is pretty self-explanatory. Cutting Palardy would give us about 2 million in savings, and that means a lot to a somewhat cash-strapped team. Plus, they have Joseph Charlton (AKA Joe), their rookie punter, who I believe has come a long way from training camp, where he was knocking punts out into the parking lot. Charlton won NFC Special Teams Player of the Week once, and still has 2 more years left on his deal. In this scenario, for multiple reasons, I believe that cheaper is better.
Wild Card Move: Cutting newly signed Stephen Weatherly
While he certainly could improve in Snow's system next year, Weatherly failed to bring home the bacon, with only 15 tackles. Although he played in only 9 games after suffering an injury in Week 9, that kind of production isn't welcomed even with his subpar price tag. Though we would miss the great social media content he brought us, I think that it'd be better for the long-term future for the Carolina Panthers.
What was your favorite move? What was your least favorite move? Did you like the moves I made? Leave your comments below and come back for when I address more free agency moves and the draft!