Sometimes no matter how much work and effort you put into something, there are circumstances that fall out of your control. Carolina Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman has done a wonderful job so far this offseason balancing his available budget and restructuring contracts to free cap space. However, despite Gettleman’s efforts, the future of the Panthers took a huge hit when Jordan Gross officially announced his retirement after 11 seasons in the NFL earlier this week. So much for that first round wide receiver. With free agency as well as the NFL Draft looming, the Panthers were poised to take a large wide receiver who would help complement Steve Smith as well as give Cam Newton another much-needed target across the middle of the field. Now that plan needs to go on the back burner. Wide receiver problems or not, without Gross Carolina needs somebody to step up and help fill the offensive line. Newton still has few options on offense, but adding a new wide receiver to the mix doesn’t matter if the line can’t block. Every solid offense starts with strong blocking up front, and the Panthers team, especially losing so many key players, is no different.
Despite their illustrious 12-4 record last year, the Panthers’ passing offense struggled greatly. Their 29th ranked passing game was abysmal, and their offense was largely carried by their running backs. If the Panthers do not replace Gross with a capable offensive lineman, not only will their passing game not improve but their running game will drastically decrease as well. Gross was a solid anchor on a very shaky offensive line, and he managed to hold the front four together. Without him the Panthers should be scrambling to bring in a replacement during free agency or the draft as soon as they can. A wide receiver might be a flashier, more exciting signing that the Carolina fans would love to see, but wins aren’t made off of flashy picks; they’re made off of solid, intelligent, well thought out choices. Getting an offensive lineman in the first round is now a must for Carolina. And while that may not be the choice that the Carolina fanbase wants, it’s the pick the team needs.