Carolina Panthers:10 Must Do Offseason Moves

Ryan KennedyAnalyst IIMay 21, 2011

Carolina Panthers:10 Must Do Offseason Moves

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Now that the NFL draft is over and we have more time on our hands than we know what to do with, our focus can shift to what things can the Carolina Panthers do in the offseason, when the offseason returns.

    The Panthers are not known for making big splashy moves so I don't really expect anything crazy this offseason. While Marty Hurney and Jerry Richardson have seemed to move away from a more conservative game plan with the addition of Ron Rivera as head coach, there is still a great deal of work to be done before the Panthers get back on top of the NFC South.

Sign Noel Devine, Kendric Burney and Weslye Saunders to Free-Agent Contracts

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    ATHENS, GA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Weslye Saunders #88 of the South Carolina Gamecocks against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on September 12, 2009 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Panthers fans likely have heard of Burney and Saunders as they were local products.

    Saunders went undrafted likely due to concerns about his NCAA investigation which he came clean on. Saunders would be someone who could develop behind Jeremy Shockey and provide a mice option as a pass-catching tight end.

    Burney is a little slow which is why he didn't get drafted but has great ball skills and would be someone who could fit in well in nickel-and-dime packages. Noel Devine would provide a change of pace on third downs and would be a great return man.

Find a Veteran QB Not Named Matt Moore

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 26:  Former starting quarterback Matt Moore #3 of the Carolina Panthers reacts during their game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Bank of America Stadium on September 26, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Le
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Matt Moore played his butt off for the Panthers at the end of the 2009-10 season, enough so that he earned the right to begin the 2010-11 season as the starter.

    The NFL is a fickle league and quarterback driven, and at this point, would likely be third on the depth chart. That is likely not going to go over well with someone as recently as 12 months ago you thought would be the answer, at least not at quarterback. Someone like Kerry Collins or Chad Pennington could come in and give real guidance to Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen and maybe start the season under center.

Re-Sign Richard Marshall

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    ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 02:  Tony Gonzalez #88 of the Atlanta Falcons against Richard Marshall #31 of the Carolina Panthers at Georgia Dome on January 2, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Richard Marshall has grown into an excellent starting cornerback. Letting him go would be a huge mistake and leave a huge hole on one side of the secondary. Marshall felt slighted this year by not receiving a long-term extension, and his play dipped a bit. Some security could see that performance bolstered. Unless the Panthers intend to make a big splash in free agency, this is a must do for the offseason.

Re-Sign Charles Johnson

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    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 27:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants is chased down Charles Johnson #95 of the Carolina Panthers at Giants Stadium on December 27, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    No, he won't make us forget about Julius Peppers but after finding his way to the opponent's quarterback 12 times last season, he certainly made losing Peppers a little easier. Johnson will command a lage paycheck as a young pass-rusher but would be worth it to solidfy the defnsive line.

Make Jimmy Clausen Your Stating QB and Stick with Him

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    PITTSBURGH - DECEMBER 23:  Jimmy Clausen #2 of the Carolina Panthers calls a timeout during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 23, 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
    Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

    Right now, I am not sure either Clausen or Newton quite has a grasp of what it takes to win at the NFL level, but that doesn't mean someone doesn't need to play the position. I would have Clausen start, hope he performs adequately and next year trade him to the Redskins or some other quarterback needy team. Cam Newton has too much of a transition to the NFL game, and I doubt he has the leadership ability and skill to turn Carolina around like Michael Vick did with the Atlanta Falcons.

Sign Tommie Harris

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    CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 16:  Tommie Harris #91 of the Chicago Bears reacts after a sack of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck #8 of the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFC divisional playoff game at Soldier Field on January 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by J
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    The Panthers had a glaring hole at defensive tackle last year and hopefully will be able to have found solutions to that in Sione Fua and Terrell McClain.

    However, two rookies will not be enough, and with the right rotation, Tommie Harris might not find himself injured all the time and would provide someone for defenses to focus on in the middle of the defensive line. I would also like to see Cullen Jenkins here too, but I doubt the Packers let him go.

Find a Veteran Wide Receiver

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    JACKSONVILLE, FL - DECEMBER 26:  Mike Sims-Walker #11 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs after making a reception during the game against the Washington Redskins at EverBank Field on December 26, 2010 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty
    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    I'm not sure there is anyone out there who is worthy of top money outside of maybe Sidney Rice, and he only had one real breakout season. The second and third tier of the free-agent class is filled with injury-prone guys and players with holes in their games but could add value as rotation guys. Signing someone like Mike Sims-Walker, Steve Smith (NYG) or Jacoby Jones may help bolster promising young receivers David Gettis and Brandon LaFell.

Let Thomas Davis Go

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 14:  Linebacker Thomas Davis #58 of the Carolina Panthers celebrates a fourth down stop in the final minutes of their 20-17 win over the Chicago Bears at Bank of America Stadium on September 14, 2008 in Charlotte, North Carolina.
    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Linebackers with bad knees are not a good long-term investment.

    James Anderson performed well, and the Panthers just drafted Lawrence Wilson so Davis is a bit expendable. This is not to say Davis wasn't productive when on the field but more a reflection that he could never stay on the field.

Let DeAngleo Williams Go

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    NEW ORLEANS - OCTOBER 03:  DeAngelo Williams #34 of the Carolina Panthers in action during the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on October 3, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    This move will not be a fan-friendly move by any means, but the fact is that Williams has been injured the past few seasons and likely will do the same this year. In an NFL, where running back by committee is something that teams need, Williams will need a paycheck that is well beyond a committee back. Mike Goodson showed he can carry the load when needed last year and should be a serviceable replacement.

Trade Steve Smith to the San Diego Changers

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 19:  Steve Smith #89 of the Carolina Panthers points to the Arizona Cardinals sideline during their game at Bank of America Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The trade that makes the most sense for both sides is trading Smith to the San Diego Chargers for Vincent Jackson. Malcolm Floyd already does what Jackson does for the Charges when healthy, and the Panthers get a young game-breaking wide receiver. Oakland is another option as Al Davis doesn't mind head cases. The Panthers would find a hard time finding a mix of players and draft picks to compensate them properly though.