Now that the first wave of NFL free agency is over, ESPN’s David Newton believes the Carolina Panthers have done a good job adding to their roster.
Overall grade: B-minus. This would have been a solid B had Bashaud Breeland not failed his physical. Dontari Poe is a solid pickup. Re-signing 38-year-old defensive end Julius Peppers also was big and somewhat overlooked. You also have to consider the trade for Torrey Smith because getting him lessened the need to sign a big-name free-agent receiver such as Allen Robinson or Sammy Watkins, who were given ridiculously high deals despite not having accomplished a lot. Smith was a bargain at $5 million a year. Adding Jarius Wright, 28, to compete for the slot receiver role also was a good, inexpensive move that brings more experience to a young group.
My take: I think a B-minus is fair. The Panthers did a great job replacing Star Lotulelei, and made the right decision to bring Julius Peppers back. I think they could have done better than the Worley-Smith swap, but it’s not the worst trade in the world. I think the Panthers definitely need to find some quality players in the secondary, whether that be in free agency or the draft.
Newton also believes that defensive tackle Donatri Poe was Carolina’s biggest addition (no pun intended).
Most significant signing: Poe, the former Atlanta Falcons defensive tackle, is huge not only in terms of size (6-foot-3, 335 pounds), but in what he does for the defense. The Panthers had to replace free-agent loss Star Lotulelei, whose role as the space-eater was a big part of the success of fellow tackle Kawann Short and the overall defense. This unit thrives on having a front four, particularly the tackles, penetrate and take up blocks so linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis can make tackles. Poe does that, plus adds an element of rushing the passer that Lotulelei didn’t.
My take: It’s hard to disagree. I think Poe is going to be a huge factor for the Panthers (again, no pun intended) and if they don’t put him in at quarterback on 3rd and goal at least once this season I’m going to write a sternly worded letter to Ron Rivera.
What do you think, Panthers fans? Have the Panthers done a good job in free agency so far? Are there any players you’d like to see them add? Share your thoughts with us!