NFL Carolina Panthers

5 Carolina Panthers Who Shouldn’t Be Back In 2014

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Carolina Panthers: Players Who Shouldn't Be Back In 2014

Sam Sharpe-USA Today Sports

The Carolina Panthers were one of the more pleasant surprises in 2013. A team that had been rather insignificant for several years not only climbed out of the basement, but won the NFC South, going 12-4 and earning the No. 2 seed in the playoffs. Unfortunately for the Panthers, they might have overachieved as they ran into a buzzsaw in the playoffs in the San Francisco 49ers. One positive you could take from the loss is you could see where this team needs some work to keep the momentum going for the 2014 season.

It’s clear from watching the Panthers' playoff loss that this team is in some serious need of offense going into the 2014 season. Third year man Cam Newton finally started living up to his expectations as the No. 1 pick in 2011. Still, when a 35-year-old Steve Smith is pretty much your only reliable option, you’re going to have some issues putting up points. The Panthers' defense, however, was outstanding and one of the best in the league. The Panthers' defense will be a formidable unit for years to come, being led by superstar Luke Kuechly. With Kuechly and a few others I’ll mention later, the Panthers will be in every game with this defense.

It should be interesting to see what the Panthers do this offseason with an amazing 21 unrestricted free agents currently on the roster. Who are five players who shouldn’t be there next year, though, whether free agent or not? Click that ‘next’ button and find out. Enjoy the show.

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Jordan Gross

Sam Sharpe-USA Today Sports

Jordan Gross proved in 2013 he's still got it. But being an unrestricted 34-year-old free agent, Gross might not be in the team's long term future. Sometimes you just have to cut ties before it's too late.

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Brandon LaFell

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

Brandon LaFell is a decent receiver, but it's about time the Panthers had something better than decent. Steve Smith isn't getting any younger at age 35 and Ted Ginn isn't a No. 2. The time is now to get at least one legit receiver to pair with Smith.

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Jonathan Stewart

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If the Panthers cut Jonathan Stewart they would carry around $22 million in dead money for the 2014 season. Stewart isn't going anywhere, at least for the 2014 season. With the ridiculous contract and lack of production, mainly due to injuries, Stewart shouldn't be back in 2014. It's too bad for the Panthers. They don't really have a choice in the matter, though.

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Colin Cole

Bob Donnan-USA Today Sports

The Panthers drafted two DTs last year in Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short. By my estimation, that should make 34-year-old UFA Colin Cole pretty expendable in 2014.

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Jimmy Clausen

Jeremy Brevard-USA Today Sports

When doing some research for the Panthers on this very column I was shocked to find out that not only Jimmy Clausen was still on the team, but that he was still in the league. I called it when he was first drafted. I said that clown would be a bust and I couldn't have been more right.