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Carolina Panthers Hunt Back to Contention

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The following is a guest post by Braydon Tomac on how he would get the Panthers back into the hunt for the NFC South. If you’d like to contribute an article to our site, please email theamatueragency@gmail.com.

Matt Rhule has come into Carolina to build a program, and he has done just that so far. Panthers fans need to continue to stay patient, it is bound to pay off. Although the Panthers finished 5-11, seven of those losses were one-score games. There is lots to build on from last season.

There is more to a NFL general manager job than attempting to have the best 53 players; they are procurement specialists for the players who make teams worth billion-dollar companies, all while having to juggle justifying how to spend millions of stakeholders dollars every year.

Staff is one of those things general managers need to stay attentive to. Building a great program always leads to one of the largest risks; losing your coordinator. Joe Brady has been an NFL OC for one NFL season and is already getting head coaching interviews.

One can only hope that the organization has attention to this and has an understudy taking diligent notes. Brady is on course to be a brilliant offensive mind in the NFL and is going to be a crucial part of the process.

Carolina had a fantastic draft last year. They have needs at quarterback, corner, tight end, tackle, linebacker. With a shrinking salary cap likely in the $180 million range. The team currently is set to have $179.31 million on the books via overthecap.com.

There will likely be some cap casualties. Ultimately the team will need to focus on having another great draft if they are going to stay on this path towards a competitive playoff team.

Cap casualties

Edge rusher Stephen Weatherly’s two million dead cap saves $5.95 million. It is hard to justify having an edge rusher taking up $7.95 million in cap space when he plays nine games and has zero sacks.

Safety Justin Burris $1.05 million dead cap saves $4.04 million. The Panthers have an out on Burris’ contract. In 13 games this season, he had only one interception and allowed 32 receptions. Far from a great season.

We could very well see Kawann Short being a third cap casualty. He is a 32-year-old interior defensive lineman coming off an injury reserve. His cap hit is $20 million this year but comes with an $11 million dead cap. Keeping him on the team one more season until his contract expires seems to be a likely approach.

However, the Panthers cannot let Taylor Moton go. He is likely going to cost in the $14-15 million a year range but he is one of the league’s elite right tackles and the dead cap is worth it. So with that in mind, it may be in the Panthers’ best interest to cut Short saving $9.8 million incurring an $11.02 million dead cap.

Re-signings and free agency

Using the $180 number cap number because it is on the low end, and we want to be conservative as it’s unknown what the true cap number will be for the 2021 season. With that in mind, the Panthers have about $20.48 million to spend. In this scenario, the Panthers are instantly dishing $14 million of which to right tackle Taylor Moton leaving $6.48 million in space to basically pay the draft class.

The shrinking cap will hurt the Panthers one of the most. This also means the departing of tackle, Russell Okung and receiver Curtis Samuel. Okung will only be remembered for being paid in bitcoin; Samuel well he’s going to head to a team like the 49ers or Chiefs be used in some sort of gadget receiver after experiencing a career year in yards and catch percentage.

Draft

Matt Rhule and the Panthers had the benefit of coaching at Reese’s Senior Bowl. By the looks of things, he’s getting right in there with the seniors and these prospects are getting a good taste of what the NFL will feel like. Once again we will be using the data from multiple draft databases to generate draft value. These values will heavily alter as rumours are leaked about how teams feel for rookies.

8th overall pick: Quarterback Trey Lance, North Dakota State. It has become apparent that Teddy Bridgewater isn’t the long term solution in Carolina. They have an out on his contract at the end of the 2021 year. Lance isn’t ready for the NFL day one.

He has all the tools to be a franchise quarterback but is going to need time. Spending the year behind Bridgewater, learning Brady’s offence will pay a huge dividend. Lance could become the Josh Allen of the NFC.

Pick 40: Offensive tackle Jalen Mayfield, Michigan. It is the year to need offensive talent, especially tackles. Mayfield looks to be all the part of a franchise tackle. Having Mayfield to shore the opposite edge from Moton will not only tremendously help Bridgewater, but Lance down the road.

Pick 72: Linebacker Baron Browning, Ohio State. Browning is looking to shoot up draft boards at the Senior Bowl, but he is a guy who Carolina could fall in love with. If you could clone starting linebacker Shaq Thompson, you get Baron Browning.

Pick 109: Safety Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech. Deablo would be a nice complementary safety to All-Rookie Jermey Chinn who was drafted in the third round last year.

Pick 149: Tight-end Tre Mc’Kitty, Georgia. The Panthers tight end position group is pretty bleak looking. Ian Thomas will return and has been decent, adding another athletic tight end to add depth to the group would be a great value-add.

Pick 188: Edge rusher William Bradley-King, Baylor. Rhule likely still has close ties to the college program he built up. He will fit into the defence very well being a role player early on.

Pick 218: Running back Larry Rountee III, Missouri. McCaffery, unfortunately, wasn’t healthy last year, and Mike Davis will be lost to free agency. Rountee III can instantly get snaps in the NFL if need be. He is a back who can do it all but isn’t flashy.

The Panthers have an extremely quiet offseason activity-wise, but as a Panther knows laying low in the shadows is sometimes the best. In 2021 the Lance led Panthers will be ready to pounce for the division.

Follow Braydon Tomac:

Twitter: @BrayTomac
Instagram: @tomac16

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