Free agency is officially open, and business is booming across the league. On day one of the frenzy, the Panthers have lost their two biggest free agents — Andrew Norwell and Star Lotulelei — but have also retained one of their own as well (Julius Peppers — woot!).
The Panthers usually avoid shopping for big names during the first week of the free agent period, but this year we’ve already seen the addition of cornerback Bashaud Breeland to replace the recently traded Daryl Worley. Are there other moves in store from general manager Marty Hurney, or will Breeland be the only ‘big name’ that we sign?
I’m hoping for the former, so here are five positions I’m hoping the Panthers improve in free agency.
Star Lotulelei signed with the Bills yesterday, so now we have a need at nose tackle. Vernon Butler ‘can’ play the position and Kyle Love is still on the roster for one more season, but that shouldn’t stop Hurney from trying to improve that area of the defense.
My choice: Bennie Logan. He’s only 28 years old and he’s coming off a good year in Kansas City. According to WalterFootball, “Bennie Logan doesn’t put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he’s a tremendous run defender.”
That’s exactly what we need from a nose tackle. We already have Kawann Short (and Vernon Butler) to rush the passer. We need a brick wall in the middle to shut down the run, and Logan would fill that void very well.
Kurt Coleman was released a few weeks ago to help clear cap space. This move also created a void at safety. Currently, our starting safeties are Mike Adams and Colin Jones. That’s ... not good. The Panthers need to find someone to start beside Adams.
My choice: Tyrann Mathieu. Yeah, he’ll probably be expensive, but he’s worth it. When you have an opportunity to make your team better than it was the day before, you should take it. Mathieu would make the Panthers better, so Hurney should find a way to make enough cap space to bring him on board.
Also, Mathieu was cut by the Cardinals. so if the Panthers wanted to sign him he wouldn’t affect any compensatory picks they could receive in 2019 — win/win.
The Panthers lost Andrew Norwell to the Jaguars, and Ryan Kalil announced that 2018 will be his last season in the NFL. While the Panthers do have a few guys on the roster who could fill in at left guard, the Panthers should probably make a depth signing. They don’t have to go out and get ... well, Andrew Norwell, but they should take a one or two year flyer on a veteran guard/center just in case the rotation of Taylor Moton/Tyler Larsen/Greg Van Roten doesn’t pan out and/or Ryan Kalil has any setbacks from the neck injury he suffered last season.
My choice: Joe Berger. Yeah, he’s 36 years old, but the Panthers only need a one-to-two year stop gap anyway. There are guys in the draft that should be in serious consideration, but having a veteran on the depth chart isn’t the worst thing in the world. He should be fairly cheap too, which is a nice bonus.
He’s allegedly considering retirement, which could complicate things. The Panthers should send him an offer anyway, just in case.
The Panthers need a backup tight end now that Ed Dickson is a free agent. There are plenty of affordable options on the market, and they should probably sign one of them. Of course, they could always draft Hayden Hurst and kill two birds with one stone — backup tight end now, starting tight end when Greg Olsen moves on — but there’s no guarantee they’ll be in a position to do that. So, they should shop the free agent market.
My choice: Luke Willson. Despite not knowing how to spell the name Wilson, Luke Willson would be a good fit for the Panthers. They don’t need someone to be the No. 1 option for Cam Newton. They just need someone to fill out the depth chart at tight end. Willson is probably better than Ed Dickson, and if you can improve your tight ends without spending a lot of money, you should do it.
Derek Anderson is a free agent, and the only backup quarterback on the roster right now is Garrett Gilbert. The Panthers need to find someone to back up Newton, and there are plenty of affordable options on the market.
My choice: Joe Webb. It’s time to right a wrong, Marty. Bring Joe Webb back to Carolina!
Which free agents would you like to sign, Panthers fans? Share your thoughts below!