The Panthers' 2012 offseason has officially begun, and it's time to start evaluating the talent currently on the roster and looking forward to which moves must be made to improve the team through free agency and the draft.
As always, we'll start with the quarterback position. Here are the players currently on the Panthers roster:
Cam Newton, No.1
Derek Anderson, No.3
Jimmy Clausen, No.2
Starter: Cam Newton
Newton was a huge upgrade for the Panthers in 2011 and should only improve as the team attempts to make a playoff run in his second professional season.
Newton has the big arm and deep accuracy that make for an ideal fit in this offense, and it was evident near the end of the season that he's a real weapon that can make this offense unstoppable at times.
However, the rookie was not without mistakes or cold streaks. After throwing an interception, Newton turned into a different player for the remainder of the game. He did not trust his reads and was almost too timid at times, which resulted in more mistakes and a loss for the Panthers.
Considering Newton was without much of a preseason to learn before being throw into live action, one must expect a lot of growth this offseason as he establishes himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. The Panthers will be able to increase the workload on Newton and expand his knowledge of the playbook.
There is no concern of adding a veteran who can push Newton for a starting position at this point. The 22-year-old quarterback is as sturdy of a player as you'll find, and he's incredibly self-motivated.
Priority: Extremely Low
Backups: Derek Anderson, Jimmy Clausen
Jimmy Clausen was surprisingly content with taking on a role as emergency quarterback this season and was inactive nearly the entire season. He lost his job to Newton and was quickly passed by Derek Anderson for the second string spot after Anderson's stellar preseason performance.
Clausen may provide the team with trade value as the draft approaches, but Anderson is likely a keeper. He had great chemistry with Newton, and you won't often find a 28-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback that will wear a headset and maintain a great, team-first attitude.
Anderson should be a Panther as long as the team can afford to keep him—something that shouldn't be difficult given his contract status. He has experience in the team's current offense and extra advice is always important with a young starter.
Finding a backup at quarterback should not be a high priority for the Panthers this offseason.