The Panthers broke from custom in 2019 by lacking the playoffs for consecutive years for the primary time since 2012. That’s kicked off a small-scale rebuild that become a giant one.
Cam Newton turned the newest tenured veteran to depart Carolina when he was launched this spring. He joined a distinguished listing that features Ron Rivera, Luke Kuechly, and Greg Olsen among the many large names who’ve both left or been compelled out of Charlotte. The Panthers’ offense now belongs to newly signed quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. He’s gonna want some assist to convey the crew again to the postseason.
Carolina Panthers (5-11), missed playoffs
New coach Matt Rhule is tasked with main Carolina again to the postseason. The Panthers didn’t actually have the cap house to drag off a full makeover in free company, however they’ll buttress that with the No. 7 choose on this 12 months’s draft and plant the seeds of change with good strikes.
Earlier than free company:
- Defensive finish: Brian Burns is a promising younger cross rusher, however the Panthers’ sack leaders final season had been Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin, neither of whom are rostered for 2020. Including veteran assistance will bolster a defensive position that ranked second within the NFL in sack charge.
- Offensive line: For what feels just like the 10th straight 12 months, offensive line is a serious want for the Panthers. Previous makes an attempt at beefing up the blocking by large contracts have had various charges of success (good day, Matt Kalil). Will 2020 — which already noticed the crew swap out perennial Professional Bowl guard Trai Turner for deal with Russell Okung — be any completely different?
- Cornerback: The Panthers ranked 11th within the league in passing protection, per Soccer Outsiders’ DVOA metric, however James Bradberry, Tre Boston, Ross Cockrell, and Javien Elliott are all free brokers in 2020. Rhule and normal supervisor Marty Hurney should determine who stays and who goes whereas including some new contributors to the combination in the event that they’re going to decelerate opponents subsequent season.
What Cat Scratch Reader desires most this offseason: The Panthers desperately must rebuild their offensive and defensive traces after a dismal 2019 from each items. They had been horrible at defending the quarterback and stopping the run final 12 months, so any assist they’ll get within the 2020 draft can be a welcome addition. Additionally they want to interchange Olsen, which isn’t a straightforward process. Ian Thomas appears promising, however they should add some depth behind him earlier than the season begins. — Bradley Smith
After free company:
Carolina noticed extra expertise go away than it took in within the free agent interval, however the Panthers nonetheless added fascinating items like Robby Anderson, Tahir Whitehead, and Stephen Weatherly. And so they obtained their QB in Bridgewater. He’ll have a helpful lineup of talent gamers to focus on, however the membership can’t afford to waste its photographs at this 12 months’s draft.
- Offensive line: The QB room is now Bridgewater, XFL star P.J. Walker, and Will Grier. Defending the crew’s new funding will probably be paramount to finishing this rebuild rapidly and effectively.
- Cornerback: Bradberry is now a Large, and the one defensive again to affix the roster so far is cornerback Juston Burris — who was good in restricted targets final season however has solely began 11 video games in his four-year profession. Reinforcements are wanted.
- Tight finish: Carolina nonetheless hasn’t moved to interchange Olsen. Whereas Thomas may make a leap in his second 12 months as a professional, the Panthers shouldn’t really feel snug with him unchallenged atop their depth chart simply but.
After the draft:
The Panthers went all protection within the draft and whereas they didn’t tackle offensive line or tight finish, they nonetheless obtained some good items. First-round choose Derrick Brown was a monster defensive deal with for Auburn. Second-round choose Yetur Gross-Matos may’ve gone on Day 1 and may present a robust pass-rushing presence (9 sacks final 12 months for Penn State) straight away in Carolina.
The Panthers traded up for Southern Illinois security Jeremy Chinn, one other speedy starter. Security Kenny Robinson from the XFL must be able to contribute too. Though they waited till Day three so as to add to their cornerback depth, Notre Dame’s Troy Delight might be a pleasant fourth-round pickup.
Dan Kadar’s draft grade: B+