The general consensus from the media is that the Carolina Panthers took a step back this offseason—that they could not improve the roster because they were so cap-strapped by the ridiculous contracts handed out by former general manager Marty Hurney.
For Panthers fans, seeing their team being counted out by the media is nothing new. Before last season, few believed that they had any chance of competing with the Atlanta Falcons or New Orleans Saints within the NFC South, but they quieted those doubters by going 5-1 within the division and gaining a No. 2 seed in the NFC.
Watch out for the Panthers to surprise their detractors once again in 2014 because if we learned anything from last season, it should be to not doubt Dave Gettleman's free-agent signings or draft decisions, no matter how questionable they may seem at first.
The following players represent the top roster upgrades that Carolina made over the offseason. They are ranked by the extent to which the upgrade will impact the team's performance in 2014 based on the role of the position in the team's offensive and defensive scheme, the difference in talent between the incoming and replaced starter and the intangibles that the players bring to the team.