If the Carolina Panthers want to be taken seriously next year (and future years) as a team that has the ability to get back to the playoffs, then they need to be able to score. While that may seem obvious, it is something that the Panthers, despite all of their strengths, struggled with in 2013. Many people saw the Panthers 2013 season as a rejuvenation, a recalling to glory and a sign of things to come. While it may be the former, one good year does not mean that the Panthers are suddenly the New England Patriots and, as odd as it may seem, they are still rebuilding.
The lack of secondary presence and gaps in both the offensive line and wide receivers leave more questions than answers for the Panthers as they go into the NFL Draft. However, while many organizations would mishandle the Panthers’ current situation, the organization has just optioned Cam Newton‘s contract, which shows they are looking toward the future, not just next year.
Optioning Newton will allow the Panthers to reevaluate his contract in 2015 and lock him up for the time being. However, what it really shows is that the organization recognizes they have a franchise quarterback, and will lock him up for a much longer chunk of time when they have more cap space.
During this offseason, there has been a lot of discussion on how the Panthers are going to bounce back next season. However, by optioning Newton, the Panthers have showed a bigger step, that they want to know how they are going to bounce back, and keep bouncing back, for the next five seasons. The draft is ripe with wide receiving talent as well as strong, powerful lineman. As of right now, the front seven are still in tact for the spectacular Panthers’ defense, and while next year’s offense may not be up to snuff, the new draft picks should give the Panthers’ offense something to build off of. That, and Cam Newton.