The Carolina Panthers have built quite the NFC powerhouse, but one of the men responsible for the Panthers’ recent rise might not be around come 2014. Panthers left tackle Jordan Gross has been a Carolina fixture for the past 11 seasons, yet the offensive tackle reconstructed his deal last offseason to make sure he would be a free agent after the year. Needless to say, Gross is now a free agent and has a choice to either hang up his cleats for good or throw on the shoulder pads and chase a Super Bowl ring for one last season.
At 34 years old, Gross has taken a beating and the two-time All-Pro has earned the right to walk away from the game. Gross is a staple in Carolina, so he’s been around for the maturation of Cam Newton. Since the quarterback’s rookie season, Gross has always been in Newton’s corner as the two have always maintained a rather close relationship.
With all of that being said, the last thing Carolina wants is for Gross to have a Matt Birk-like impact on the Panthers. If you can recall, veteran center Matt Birk retired from the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens last year and the Ravens surely missed him in 2013. Similar to Newton’s bond with Gross, Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco developed a major connection with his center and the loss of Birk had a negative impact on the Ravens this past season.
Hopefully, Gross can leave the game of football knowing that Carolina will be fine without him, but recent history says that Newton and Panthers might struggle amid this the transition at left tackle.