Hey CSR. I've reading this blog for about a year now, and I'm an avid Panther fan. I just recently made an account, and this is my first post, so I'm not exactly sure how all this works. Any advice would be wonderful, and I hope you enjoy this post. Thanks!
As the title says, this is a list/guide to free agents the Panthers should acquire or resign. There's a good mix between other teams' players and Panthers I would like to see locked up for 2014 (not to mention who I think should be our new head coach should Rivera be fired). Note that this list does not nearly include all Panthers free agents for 2014, only who I think are the most essential.
I understand that with our salary cap situation we can't do much, so I'm not saying everyone on this list should be signed, but that they would all be good contributions to our team.
Panthers to Secure for 2014
Captain Munnerlyn, CB: Maybe starting with a disputed name like this is a bad idea, but we all know our secondary is in shambles. Captain has struggled somewhat, but he's a talented cover corner that other teams would snatch up relatively quickly. If you look at other media outlets, they all value him quite highly. I definitely don't think he's a long-term solution, but we need Munnerlyn for at the very least another year.
Quintin Mikell, SS: We picked him up relatively recently, and from what I've seen, I think he should be kept. Yes, he's aging, and a bit injury-prone, but as mentioned above, our defensive backfield is downright terrible. He had a great clutch strip-sack against the Bills (to go with a phenomenal 7-tackle game), and is an incredibly talented run-stopper. Although he can sometimes be a liability in pass coverage, him along with our strong front 7 poses a great run defense.
Jordan Gross, OT: Folks, he's our best option at OT and we need him and Kalil to anchor our line, which we know the rest of is kaput. A big contract is not something he's going to require, and he's somewhat of a no-brainer. Yes, he had some problems last season, but he's a generally solid veteran.
Greg Hardy, DE: The Kraken is a beast, there's no other way to put it. He was a sixth round pick, that, along with Rivera's help, exploded in 2012. We all know him and Charles Johnson are a very, very good defensive end tandem. He's definitely going to cost us A LOT, and probably going to prevent us from any big WR signings, like Hakeem Nicks, but in my opinion he's worth it.
Travelle Wharton, OG: He'll be cheap and he might even be effective. And effective is definitely a step up from our o-line right now. Personally, I think the best way to shore up our line is with a first round pick (keep your fingers crossed for Jake Matthews!) and veterans like Wharton and Gross. It's probably the cheapest way, and it just might work.
Jon Beason, LB: I think we should only resign him if he's willing to take a big pay cut and stay healthy--for the most part--this season. As unlikely as that is, I love Beason and would hate to see him go. He, TD, and Kuechly form an almost unstoppable linebacking core, and definitely one of the best in the league. In the end, I couldn't keep him off this list.
Free Agents From Other Teams
Hakeem Nicks, WR, New York Giants: This is one that has been speculated about for a long time, and seems like a no-brainer. Wrong. If we choose to resign Hardy, Nicks is pretty much out of the picture unless Getts moves some serious cash around. Nevertheless, we all know Nicks is a very talented--albeit injury-prone--wideout. He's only 25, and we have a big need for a WR. But as he's likely going to be out of our price range, I suggest the following.
Kenny Britt, WR, Tennessee Titans: Britt, a former 1st round pick out of Rutgers, is an incredibly talented receiver. He's got great speed that allows him the potential to burn, along with good size and hands. He's had numerous off the field incidents--and more specifically attitude problems--most recently tweeting that he won't be back for 2014 in a Titans uniform. He hopefully won't cost us much and definitely has the talent to be a #1 wide receiver.
Walter Thurmond lll, CB, Seattle Seahawks: Thurmond is young, is dripping with potential, and in a year where Brandon Browner is an unrestricted free agent, he'll be easy to snatch. Given his injury history and the fact that he's relatively unproven, he could be a low-risk, high-reward option for the Panthers. Right now, he's the #4 CB on a phenomenal Seattle secondary, so the Seahawks are likely to try and lock up Browner and let Thurmond go unless he has a big breakout season. I think we should definitely take a look at him.
Wade Smith, OG, Houston Texans: Smith is a dominating pass blocker with ideal size. He just doesn't have good run-blocking skills and is at the ripe age of 32. He'll be pretty cheap, and will do well in helping with our o-line on a one or two-year contract. He can be a stop-gap measure until we draft someone else to do the job.
Lovie Smith: Smith is a phenomenal defensive coach with a good history of winning. He has his roots in a 4-3 defense with a dominating middle linebacker, which is exactly what the panthers have. He can make Kuechly even better than he is now, and can help with our offense. Players love him and he always has absolute control over the locker room. I believe that with Lovie Smith, the Panthers can really break through.
Well, that's my list. Hope you enjoyed it, and feel free to leave comments. Since this is my first post, I'd really appreciate some feedback. Thanks!