The offseason is officially underway for all but four teams in the NFL. The Carolina Panthers have a lot of team needs, and it’s impossible for them to address every weakness on the roster in a single offseason. With that in mind, the organization needs to prioritize the most glaring needs at the most important positions. Based on the current roster construction, the Panthers should target the following three positions in free agency and the NFL Draft.
Top Three Carolina Panthers Team Needs
It should go without saying that solving the Panthers quarterback situation should be Priority Number 1. Matt Corral is the only player on the roster, as both Sam Darnold and PJ Walker are set to hit free agency. Sam Darnold might be the best option in the short term, and a thought that terrifying should keep everyone in the organization up into the deep hours of the night.
It’s hard to envision a way to notably upgrade the position without the NFL Draft. Tom Brady won’t want to come to a team in the midst of a rebuild at this point in his career, and the rest of the impending free agents that will actually hit the market are not notably better than Darnold. Perhaps they could sign Derek Carr if the Raiders release him, but they should not trade for his bloated contract.
The Panthers hold the ninth pick in the NFL Draft and need to use it on a quarterback. While they probably won’t have their pick of the litter, one of C.J. Stroud, Bryce Young, Will Levis, and Anthony Richardson will likely be available for the Panthers, even if they need to trade up to grab one of the young passers. Carolina can’t afford to make the same mistake they made in 2020 and let a promising youngster pass by.
Bryce Young is GENERATIONAL 😳 pic.twitter.com/zpiv5m2cVj
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 31, 2022
2. Pass Rusher
There is no such thing as too many good pass rushers. Brian Burns is an absolute monster, as the former first-round pick just recorded 12 sacks while making yet another Pro Bowl appearance. However, the rest of the depth chart could use some reinforcements. Outside of Frankie Luvu, there really isn’t another player on the roster that can consistently get pressure on the quarterback.
This is probably where Carolina will spend the majority of their free-agent dollars. The Panthers already have a strong secondary, but it’s impossible to ask cornerbacks to cover their men for more than a few seconds. Adding somebody like Marcus Davenport to the mix would do wonders for the defense, especially in the NFC South.
Assuming Tom Brady leaves Tampa Bay, this division will likely have the worst starting quarterbacks in football. Pressure affects every quarterback, but it’s especially effective against rookies and subpar veterans like Jimmy Garoppolo. Even if the Panthers can’t find a great quarterback, they could still win the division with a fierce enough pass rush leading the way.
3. Tight End
Wrapping up the list of Panthers team needs is the tight end position. Carolina didn’t utilize tight ends during the Matt Rhule/Steve Wilks Era, but that probably wasn’t by choice. The duo of Ian Thomas and Tommy Tremble doesn’t exactly instill fear in opposing defenses, and Carolina should look to improve the position at some point in the offseason. After all, the best way to ensure the growth of a young quarterback is by giving them as many options in the passing game as humanly possible.
While one could argue the need for another wide receiver, the Panthers actually have a decent enough starting duo of D.J. Moore and Terrace Marshall. An extra body wouldn’t hurt, but you can get by with those two. Instead of paying up to sign a mediocre receiver like Allen Lazard, Carolina should instead spend a fraction of the money to bring over a reliable tight end like Evan Engram or Dalton Schultz.
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