Even though it ended in disappointing fashion, the 2013-2014 season was a huge step forward for the Carolina Panthers. Despite having so many answers throughout the year, the Panthers enter the offseason with a number of questions. This piece will be an introduction to those questions and I’ll spend the next few weeks going more in-depth with each one.
As I outlined earlier a couple months ago, the Panthers paid a little over $18 million combined to 21 of their most important contributors. As I also mentioned in that piece, that’s not a formula conducive to sustaining this roster as it is long term.
Carolina has 21 players that will become unrestricted free agents:
(* Denotes 2013 starter)
-QB Derek Anderson
-QB Jimmy Clausen
-WR Brandon LaFell*
-WR Ted Ginn Jr. *
-WR Domenik Hixon
-TE Ben Hartsock
-LT Jordan Gross*
-G Travelle Wharton*
-OL Geoff Hangartner
-OL Garry Williams
-OL Bruce Campbell
-DE Greg Hardy*
-DT Colin Cole
-LB Dan Connor
-LB Jordan Senn
-LB Jason Williams
-S Quintin Mikell*
-S Mike Mitchell*
-CB Captain Munnerlyn*
-CB Drayton Florence*
-K Graham Gano*
That’s 10 players who were starters or started a game in 2013 for the Panthers who are free to leave. By comparison, Carolina had just 11 free agents last year total. Considering Greg Hardy will command a large contract from the Panthers or someone else, and Cam Newton should be locked up this offseason, it’s hard to see all of those players returning.
Without further ado, the biggest questions on both sides of the ball for the Panthers:
-How big of a contract will Cam Newton get?
-Can GM Dave Gettleman acquire some quality offensive linemen and offensive line depth?
-Can Gettleman find some offensive weapons for Cam Newton to get the ball to?
-Who’s going to be the backup QB?
-What to do with high-priced RBs DeAngelo Williams/Jonathan Stewart?
-Will the offense that stagnated late open up?
-What will Carolina do with unrestricted free agent Greg Hardy?
-With all 4 starters in the secondary set to hit free agency, who comes back?
-When does Luke Kuechly get a big contract extension?
-Will Sean McDermott get a head coaching job this offseason or next year?
-How much of a drop-off will the Panthers’ excellent defense suffer going into next year?
Like this story? CLICK HERE here to find out why the Panthers got no respect in the “way to early” power rankings.