The Carolina Panthers are poised to make a big leap next season, although an unfavorable salary cap situation is attempting to hinder them. Rookie GM David Gettleman has been under pressure since day one, as the financial situation he inherited was dire.
By the end of the 2012 season, the Panthers compiled a record of 7-9. The finished total was not an indictment on how the team was playing toward the end of the season, as they won five of their final six contests.
Cam Newton's level of play in the season's latter half has invigorated the fanbase, as the Auburn product threw 10 touchdowns versus just two interceptions over the final six weeks.
Considering that having a competent quarterback is the first step in producing a consistent winner, the Panthers have to feel great about having Newton lining up under center.
Last year's first-round pick, Luke Kuechly, won the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award, leading the entire league in tackles. Clearly, the Panthers have franchise cornerstones on both sides of the ball; now all that's left to do is build around them.
Let's take a look at a complete guide of Carolina's upcoming free-agency period.