If the Panthers want to bounce back from 2018’s second half swoon they need to have a great offseason. Here are five needs Ron Rivera needs to fill.
The status of Cam Newton’s shoulder is going to dominate headlines for the Panthers all offseason long. That’s certainly something that should concern Marty Hurney as the team’s General Manager, but he has other business to attend to as well. The ugly truth is that Carolina’s roster is rife with holes.
That doesn’t mean Hurney has to blow things up and start over. Rivera still has plenty of talent to coach. The Panthers have a roster that is fixable if they handle things correctly in free agency and the draft. The organization doesn’t have a lot of room for error, but loading up for another playoff run is distinctly possible.
If Newton and company are going to make a Super Bowl run in 2019, they’ll need to fill the following five holes. We’ll start with the team’s need to find a new anchor for the interior of their offensive line.
Replacing a five-time Pro Bowler is never easy. Ryan Kalil was an absolute fixture at center for the Panthers ever since they plucked him out of Southern Cal. His retirement will require Carolina to find a replacement capable of filling his shoes immediately.
Many pundits expect the Panthers to address this need via the draft, but a free agency move would be the more prudent play. Someone like Matt Paradis could be a perfect signing. This team cannot afford to take any risks with the player tasked with keeping defensive tackles away from Newton.
Using the draft wouldn’t be a bad plan though. Center isn’t a position that’s typically targeted in early rounds by NFL teams. That could allow Hurney to get one of the best centers from the college ranks on day two. Someway, somehow, the Panthers have to find a suitable replacement for Kalil before the regular season kicks off.