The offseason is around the corner as soon as this pesky Super Bowl is settled. Carolina has a chance to be in the hunt again in 2014, but now it's time to look back on the year that was and see who were the best and worst Panthers.
Thee up on the year
Jordan Gross (+33.5)
This is why it's so concerning to hear Gross entertain the idea of retirement. He was the Panthers best offensive player, their best lineman, heck he was the best player overall. Losing one of the few reliable blockers this team has is a huge problem -- especially given he finished with a +21.6 pass protection rating on a team where nobody else graded better than +8.0.
Greg Hardy (+27.0)
What else is there to say about Hardy. His 2013 season was the breakout performance the team needed on the defensive line to propel a good defense into a division champion.
Hardy finished with a +12.6 run stop rating and +15.4 pass rush rating, excelling on both sides of the ball and making sure the Panthers will need to pay a pretty penny to keep him.
Travelle Wharton (+20.5)
It was the preseason signing that was logical and sensible. Ultimately it wound up being the most important free agent signing of 2013. There were skill position players who offered a bigger pop, but Wharton was quietly reliable at left guard when Amini Silatolu was lost to injury.
Is he a long-term option? No, but adding Wharton was a great move.
Three down on the year
Wes Horton (-12.8)
Horton has the odious claim of being the lowest-graded player on the Panthers in 2013, all while playing one of the lowest snap counts on defense with 174 total snaps.
His struggles this season were largely equated to pass rushing, where he finished at a -8.6 with two sacks and three hurries in 114 opportunities.
Nate Chandler (-9.0)
No surprises here. Chandler moved to right guard out of necessity, and to he credit he wasn't terrible -- he just wasn't good. There's a place for utility guys who can do a little bit of everything, but it's unclear if that's enough for him to return in 2014.
Chris Scott (-9.0)
As logical as Wharton returning was, Scott was as much of a head scratcher. He finished the season with a -9.9 run block rating at a right guard spot that demands reliability at the position.
There were some great decisions made by the front office this season, but explaining why Scott was viewed as a capable right guard is a big time question.