Off Season Preview: NFC South – Carolina Panthers

NFC South – Carolina Panthers
2020 Record: 5-11 | Projected Cap Space: $6 Million

BY CARLOS MEDINA
680  THE FAN, ATLANTA –
Working on a Turnaround:

FILE – Carolina Panthers head coach Matt Rhule, left, and offensive coordinator Joe Brady watch from the sideline during an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Charlotte, N.C., in this, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020, file photo.(AP Photo/Brian Westerholt, File)

It would make perfect sense if Panthers head coach Matt Rhule carried around a business card that read, “turnaround artist”. That’s what he’s been able to do in every one of his stops in the coaching world.

The 2020 Panthers experienced the foundational season under Matt Rhule. Similar to what occurred at Temple and

Baylor in their initial seasons under Rhule, the Panthers experienced a tough 5-11 season. But if history is an indicator, the turnaround is coming.

The Panthers used this season to get younger defensively and establish what they are going

to be offensively. Using every draft pick on defense in their previous draft, the group was able to put together a respectable season. The offense is now the area of focus in 2021. The Panthers played a physical brand of football that looked like Rhule’s Temple squads of the past. In order to add that Baylor

-type of explosion offensively, the Panthers

will have to begin the search for the future at

quarterback.

The Panthers have playmakers. What they need is a dynamic playmaker throwing the football. Teddy Bridgewater, signed to be the veteran starter until a young quarterback is ready, was the caretaker this young team needed. But now with a top 10 pick, the Panthers should be aggressive in identifying and selecting their next quarterback. If they get the quarterback situation correct, the turnaround will really be fully underway.

 


Targets for Release/Restructure:

Stephen Weatherly, DE: Signed last offseason as an evolving pass rusher who was improving. Unfortunately, Weatherly did not record a single sack in 2020. His cap figure is pretty expensive for a player who doesn’t get quarterbacks on the ground. Cap savings: $5.9M
Teddy Bridgewater, QB: The veteran quarterback was signed as a “bridge” to the quarterback of the future. After a benching late in the season, Bridgewater could easily be moved off the roster in the interest of a rookie or another veteran option. Cap savings: $20M

 


Key Free Agents:

Russell Okung, LT – When he’s healthy, Okung has provided quality tackle play. Okung has only been able to start 13 games over the past two seasons.
Curtis Samuel, WR – Posted a career-high 77 catches for 851 yards. Finally realized his immense potential as a versatile weapon as a receiver and out of the backfield.
Taylor Moton, RT – Consistent 16 game starter over the past three seasons. One of the more dependable right tackles in the NFL.
John Miller, G – Started 14 games after signing a one year deal. 74 game starter in the NFL, playing with three different franchises.
Mike Davis, RB – Showed his value as a veteran backup who can start when needed. Rushed for over 600 yards in the absence of Christian McCaffrey.

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