The Carolina Panthers, arguably, got the two most important pieces they were going to sign this offseason done and out of the way within 72 hours of the league being back in business.
The Panthers have agreed deals with Charles Johnson and DeAngelo Williams.
They have reportedly also re-sgined James Anderson. They added two other pieces in kicker Olindo Mare and defensive tackle Ron Edwards. They have also made substantial pickups from the undrafted rookie pool in Kendric Burney, Ryan Pugh and Darvin Adams.
So far the Panthers have addressed the offensive line, running back, defensive line, secondary and special teams. What is the next move for the Panthers?
The Panthers seems to be content in going after their own players and finding veterans who can come in and make a difference as role players so far. That does not mean that the Panthers still might not make a big splash.
What areas do the Panthers still need to address? Here is a quick breakdown.
With the rookie wage scale being implemented, getting Cam Newton signed should be a bit easier than it might have been if the Panthers were in this situation last year. Bringing him in and getting him under contract should be the next move of importance.
The Panthers should be weary of handing the reigns to a rookie quarterback again right off the bat. Matt Moore and Brian St. Pierre are both free agents.
Moore has a legitimate shot at starting but might not want to come back and then lose his spot to a rookie. St. Pierre really isn't starting material.
The Panthers will probably have to bring in someone from the outside. Take a look at the "best" (that's right, quotation marks) quarterbacks available:
Brian Brohm, Kellen Clemens, Brodie Croyle, Trent Edwards, Charlie Frye, Rex Grossman, J.P. Losman, Patrick Ramsey, Chris Simms, Troy Smith and Billy Volek
Not one is an option you want to have running your offense come Week 1.
The Panthers may have had a life raft throw to them though. The Cleveland Browns are reportedly releasing Jake Delhomme (surprise).
He might be a good short-term solution and mentor to Cam Newton and Jimmy Clausen.
Darvin Adams is a nice pickup and should make Cam Newton more comfortable having players he knows surrounding him (it seems like the Panthers are trying to recreate the national championship team doesn't it?).
Keoloha Pilares had a lot of fans asking, "Who?" on draft day. Neither should make an instant impact.
The Panthers have Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and David Gettis as their main options this year. Smith is a proven commodity and LaFell and Gettis showed they can hang in the NFL but the Panthers really need a true second option on the field.
Randy Moss and Terrell Owens are too old for the Panthers to truly consider and Sidney Rice and Braylon Edwards will probably just go to the highest bidder which will probably not be the Panthers, but they need to solidify this spot to make sure Newton, when he does get on the field, has proven options.
Someone like Steve Breaston, Mark Clayton, Sam Hurd, Laurent Robinson or Kelley Washignton would bring experience, not take away too many throws from Steve Smith and still allow for LaFell and Gettis to get in the mix without stunting their growth.
Just because Carolina keep adding young corners doesn't mean that any of them will work out. There are a few guys who should be on the Panthers radar since Richard Marshall is likely on the way out.
Johnathan Joseph may be the second best free agent on the market. (Cromartie could be argued here as well, but he will chase money.) He is young and would be a significant upgrade over Richard Marshall.
There are other teams thinking the same thing though. Only one team can end up with Nnamdi Asomougha, plenty of others will be looking for a consolation prize. If the Panthers show interest before those teams, that might mean something.
There are some other big names at corner beside Asomougha, Cromartie and Joseph. Carlos Rogers, Lito Sheppard and Philip Buchanon have all been long time starters and could add value. Out of them, Rogers is the youngest and might be a solid addition.
The Panthers still have work to do. These three spots would go a long way to making sure the Panthers make significant improvement next year.
They are still far off from being a true contender again, but Jerry Richardson has shown that he is willing to pay for talent early in this offseason. Expect the trend to continue.
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