The Panthers went 5-11 this season under Matt Rhule, and there are some clear positions of need. Let's check them out.
Let's get real in here. Teddy Bridgewater didn't show enough to be a franchise quarterback or our starter next season. While he was missing his running back for most of the year, he still had plenty of weapons at his disposal, with Mike Davis being a nice fill-in for McCaffrey. Trade rumors are everywhere regarding the quarterback position, and the Panthers are in the thick of it. ESPN analyst Jeremy Fowler recognized the Cowboys Dak Prescott as the best fit for Carolina if he hits free agency. The Panthers are apparently near the top when it comes to Deshaun Watson, and might have even inquired about Russell Wilson. Reports from last year surfaced that the Panthers like this QB class, and want to grab their guy. With an aggressive GM and an owner with QB fever, fans may be salivating at the potential of the guy it seems that we're pointing to. I fully believe this position will be addressed sometime in the offseason after there were subtle shots taken at Teddy's play.
First, PAY Moton. He's one of the best right tackles in the game, only letting up 3 sacks and receiving 2 penalties this past season. Someone needs to pay the man, and it better be us. Reports have surfaced from the Athletic that the Panthers intend to place the franchise tag on him if they cannot work out a deal. Right now, Matt Paradis is the only starter on the line set to be under contract for next year. Panthers beat writer Joe Person said that the Panthers believe John Miller is higher priority than Chris Reed, and will let Russell Okung walk in free agency. The draft is certainly a great spot to target our franchise tackle, with this class being extremely deep at tackle and offensive line overall.
While Donte Jackson showed he can be an elite cornerback down the stretch, there is no one left on the team that is starting-caliber. You could make the case for Troy Pride Jr who did make improvements throughout the season, but the Panthers cornerback room could and should get better this offseason. Rasul Douglas played above average but reports from Joe Person say that the organization intends to let him walk. While I'm not sure this is the right move when considering our corner room, the Panthers are tight on cap space, so I understand if they want to delegate the money to more important players or positions.
While the Panthers' offense's scapegoat was Teddy Bridgewater, it's clear the fans flung their frustration in the defensive side onto Tahir Whitehead. He eventually got benched about 3/4 of the way into the season, and a star emerged in Jermaine Carter Jr. Once Carter was put in the starting lineup, the defense made considerable strides, helping the Panthers rank 16th in yards allowed per play on the season. The absence of Luke Kuechly was still noticeable, missing plays that we normally didn't have to worry about because he'd be there to mask the mistakes made by others. However, JC Jr, Shaq Thompson, and hybrid Jeremy Chinn played pretty well considering the circumstances. Regardless, Phil Snow stated that he intends to move Chinn back to safety eventually once they get better personnel. That could mean that the draft or free agency helps them address a linebacker this year.
A tight end can be their quarterback's security blanket when plays break down. Look at the pairings: Lamar Jackson & Mark Andrews, Patrick Mahomes & Travis Kelce, Jimmy Garoppolo & George Kittle. While we don't NEED a tight end as dynamic as them, it would be nice to have another Mr. Reliable for the Panther's 2021 starting quarterback. Though Ian Thomas became more involved near the end, I'm not convinced he'll be our long-term tight end. There are intriguing options in free agency like Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, or maybe they look in the draft for players such as Tre McKitty, Pat Freiermuth, or Brevin Jordan. Kyle Pitts seems unlikely right now, what with the Panther's more pressing needs at the moment.
How should the Panthers go about addressing these positions? Are there other positions that you think I missed? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.