After a very disappointing season for the Carolina Panthers where they entered week 9 as super bowl contenders with a record of 6-2, then experiencing a historic slump where they lost 7 straight games and ended up finishing the season with a woeful record of 7-9.
As an outsider, it may seem like the Panthers have a tough few seasons ahead of them, but in fact, it’s the complete opposite. I believe that if they follow this plan, the Carolina Panthers will become a contender NEXT season.
The main goal for the Panthers this off-season should be to take care of Cam Newton and let his shoulder heal. The main reason we had such a bad run of losses last season was the fact that Cam hurt his shoulder. Before the injury, Newton was having his best season passing wise, and led us to a 6-2 record. After he hurt his shoulder, Cam continued to play worse and worse every week, and he got to the point where he couldn’t throw over 15 yards. The Panthers will need to give Cam enough time to rest and heal his shoulder so he can return to his MVP-type form.
Another huge need for the Panthers is to upgrade their defense which was woeful last season. After the departure of veterans such as Mike Adams, Julius Peppers, Thomas Davis Sr. and Captain Munnerlyn, there are empty spots that need to be filled. It seems like the Panthers are aiming to get younger on defense, and one position that needs to be freshened up by a young player is defensive end. After a lack lustre season by their defensive line in 2018, the Panthers should look for a young defensive end through either the draft or free agency which are stacked with great players such as Clelin Ferrell, Jachai Polite, Trey Flowers and much more. Whoever the Panthers pick up will have an immediate impact.
Another position that needs to be upgraded is free safety. Carolina have locked up Eric Reid, a top caliber strong safety for the next three years, now we need to find someone to pair him up with. This can be done through the draft or free agency. The likes of Deionte Thompson, Johnathan Abram or Chauncey Gardner-Johnson will be great safeties to pick up in the draft, however I believe the Panthers should try and sign a safety in free agency. The safety class in free agency consists of Earl Thomas, Landon Collins, Haha Clinton-Dix, Lamarcus Joyner and Tre Boston, all players that will be a major upgrade if we pick them up. I believe the top 2 players the Panthers should sign are Haha Clinton-Dix and Tre Boston. Both are young, solid players that are cheap and will fit into our system.
However, the most important need for the Panthers is the offensive line. Cam Newton is never provided with enough time in the pocket by his offensive line to make plays, and is constantly pressured. The Panthers need an upgrade at Left Tackle, and a way to do so is through the draft, preferably in the first round. Some solid prospects at left tackle are Jonah Williams, Jawaan Taylor and Yodny Cajuste. Any of them would provide Cam with protection he’s found hard to get at left tackle, giving him more time to make plays, which will majorly improve their offense. This would include letting 2nd team All-Pro right tackle Daryl Williams walk in free agency as Taylor Moton (who is in my opinion better than Williams) did a great job last season, not allowing more than 4 pressures in any game. This will save the Panthers a lot of cap room, leaving enough to go out and sign a stud.
If the Panthers follow that plan, look out. Their defense will be a threat once again, holding opponents to low enough scores for our offense, which will consist of studs such as Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel and most importantly, a healed Cam Newton with all the time in the world to make plays. A high powered offense and a solid defense is all a team needs to contend for a Super Bowl and the Panthers can do just that with a perfect, but definitely achievable off-season.