At the end of their extremely successful 2013 season, there was very little the Carolina Panthers and their fans had to be unhappy about. However, as time moves forward into the offseason, despite their illustrious record and phenomenal season, many concerns are arising for the Panthers franchise — namely their players. Carolina is a team that built its success out of many able bodied athletes and very talented stars, such as Captain Munnerlyn, Steve Smith and Cam Newton. However, this offseason they now have 20 unrestricted free agents on their roster which ranks them at second most in the league. One winning season does not a franchise make, and if Carolina wants to return to their spot atop the NFC South they need to find a way to keep some of their playmakers. Losing too many players would hurt Carolina greatly and most likely stop them from taking the division two years in a row.
As it stands, the Panthers seem like a team that is being pulled in three directions. On one hand, they need to keep their defensive unit around, and should spend a good portion of their available money making sure playmakers like Greg Hardy stay where they are. Losing key defensive players would be a huge blow to the Panthers who largely depended on the defense to bring them to the playoffs last year. In addition, the Panthers also need to get Newton a new wide receiver, preferably one who can cut across the middle and convert third downs. Lastly, if Jordan Gross decides to leave, the Panthers must take a tackle in the first round which will drop the quality of available wide receivers. However, even if Gross stays the Panthers ‘offensive line will still need some support.
All three of these pieces make next season very shaky for Carolina. Yes, the Panthers will still have a strong core unit to work with, and yes Carolina will most likely pick up some new players during the NFL Draft and free agency; but some players will have to leave. Fans just have to hope hope it doesn’t leave the team a shadow of what it once was.