The Carolina Panthers went into free agency needing more help at wide receiver. Then, they lost Steve Smith (Baltimore Ravens), Brandon LaFell (New England Patriots) Ted Ginn (Arizona Cardinals) and Domenik Hixon (Chicago Bears). Only recently have they added low-budget options Jerricho Cotchery and Tiquan Underwood.
Adding to their woes, Cam Newton went under the knife for ankle surgery. It has been a tough set of circumstances for a team that might have had Super Bowl aspirations.
It led to this funny but scary tweet from 30-year-old running back DeAngelo Williams: "Well looking at things as they stand Jonathan and I will be high fantasy draft picks."
If the Panthers offense has to bank on the aged legs of Williams and banged-up ones of Jonathan Stewart, 27, they are going to be playing a lot of defense.
Cotchery, Underwood, Tavarres King, Marvin McNutt and Kealoha Pilares don't make up a viable wide receiver depth chart, as listed at OurLads.com. A contender just cannot count on outfitting starters at that position via the draft.
The Charlotte Observer's Joseph Person says more restructuring (or cutting) is needed for the Panthers to get immediate answers in the passing game. They have just $7.7 million in available cap space, according to Spotrac.com.
- Write a 2014 cap-friendly, long-term deal for franchised defensive end Greg Hardy.
- Restructure the contract of defensive end Charles Johnson.
- Restructure the contract of safety Charles Godfrey.
Even with those cost-cutting moves, what is available to them in free agency? Kenny Britt is the best name available on the current market, according to Pro Football Focus' Michael Mountford, and he is closing in on a decision without making a visit to Carolina yet, per ESPN.com's Mike Reiss.
A trade for the Eagles' DeSean Jackson would be difficult because of his $12.75 million cap number, per Spotrac.com.
Maybe the question isn't what will the Panthers find at wide receiver in free agency, but what the heck were they thinking letting the situation spiral out of control like this?