For all the talk about what to do with Greg Hardy it might be this guy that gets a new deal first:
Inside Slant: Ten NFL offseason storylines - ESPN
1. Quarterback lock-ins: Timing and/or salary-cap issues mean it is time for four and perhaps five teams to commit to their starters. The Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton and the San Francisco 49ers' Colin Kaepernick have passed the three-year moratorium required under the CBA. Without new deals they would be underpaid next season at $3.4 million and $1.1 million, respectively.
It would make sense to get your franchise QB situation ironed out before making any other grand deals.
Here's an offseason outlook for the Panthers that also focuses on the contract issues the Panthers are trying to figure out:
Assessing the 2014 offseason outlooks in the NFC | Detroit Free Press | freep.com
CAROLINA PANTHERS After a 1-3 start, they came to life with an 11-1 surge that secured the NFC South crown and a surprising playoff bye. QB Cam Newton's maturation is catching up with his prodigious physical gifts as he settles into his role as team leader. Statistically, the only defense superior to Carolina's was the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks. However sustaining success in this talent-rich division won't be easy given the issues facing GM Dave Gettleman.
Contract issues: Newton has completed the first three years of his rookie contract, meaning the Panthers must now start thinking about an extension. But Gettleman will have to weigh that against the immediate desire to re-sign Pro Bowl DE Greg Hardy (15 sacks in 2013). Carolina also faces the prospect of losing its entire starting secondary, starting WR Brandon LaFell, K Graham Gano and veteran Jordan Gross, who protects Newton's blind side. RBs DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart appear like obvious targets to restructure contracts as Gettleman tries to figure out this jigsaw.
Draft pickings: The flip side of a superb season is that you draft late in every round, and Carolina won't go on the clock until pick 28 in Round 1. Given the free agent quandary and their frequent battles with Drew Brees and Matt Ryan, defensive backs seem obvious targets.
Defensive backs? Okay you lost me there given Gettleman's love for hog mollies. I wouldn't curse the selection of a DB mind you but as I've mentioned in several posts lately I think we'll see more hog mollies again this draft.
As an actor I think Alec Baldwin has some talent. As a comedian, not so much, especially after this cheap and worn out shot at Cam:
Did you see Alec Baldwin take a jab at Cam Newton and Auburn during NFL Honors show? (video) | AL.com
In his nearly 10-minute monologue, he took a few shots a number of players and coaches, including former Auburn Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton. "What a year Carolina quarterback Cam Newton had," Baldwin said. "In fact, you could say it was his best season since turning pro in his junior season at Auburn."
Only a crappy shot at Cam could make this next print palatable. Well, smoothies are palatable anyway:
Former Carolina Panther Everette Brown Celebrates Tropical Smoothie Cafe Grand Opening with NFL Players and Games for Children
To kick off the festivities, a kid's field day event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon at Charlotte's Midtown Park, located adjacent to the Metropolitan Center. Children are invited to join current and former NFL players in the fun-filled event, which will include carnival games, traditional field day competitions, inflatable bouncy houses and smoothie samplings. Tropical Smoothie Café will award 10 people with free smoothies for a year throughout the event. Following the field day activities, guests of all ages will have the chance to attend an autograph signing event at Tropical Smoothie Café from noon to 2:00 p.m. where they can meet current and former NFL players who support healthy eating.
Thirteen players, many of whom played for the Panthers, will be on site meeting fans and signing autographs including: John Beason, Thomas Davis, Graham Gano, Charles Johnson, Sherrod Martin, Captain Munnerlyn, Travelle Wharton and many others.
That's some pretty big names there for a guy who wasn't here very long.
This comparison to the SB champs is fairly spot on:
Seattle's Super Bowl win is a positive sign for Carolina Panthers | NFL Football | The State
There's a reason the Panthers and Seahawks played to a virtual stalemate the past two seasons (each a Seattle victory): They're built in the same fashion. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton is as mobile as Russell Wilson, and has a stronger arm. The Panthers might not have a running back as strong as Marshawn Lynch, but collectively the trio of DeAngelo Williams, Mike Tolbert and Jonathan Stewart -- when healthy -- can power Mike Shula's ball-control offense. Seattle's no-name receiving corps is younger and faster than Carolina's.
What they fail to compare is the o-line each was sporting at the end of the season.
I find the Vegas odds on the Panthers winning the 2014-15 SB respectable but still not as high as I would think:
Still room for respect for Carolina Panthers in Vegas - ESPN
According to the Las Vegas Hilton, the world champion Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos are 5-1 favorites to return to the title game. San Francisco is next at 6-1, followed by New England (7-1), Green Bay (16-1), New Orleans (16-1), Cincinnati (20-1), Carolina (20-1) and Indianapolis (20-1).
I'll close with this photo thread from Cam Newton...if you can get past the Kate Upton picks in the beginning: