As we say in the South, the Panthers have a tough row to hoe with regards to its offensive line this offseason. With the retirement of center Ryan Kalil four of the five offensive line positions could have a new starter in 2019. I see Trai Turner returning at right guard as a lock. It gets a lot less certain from there.
Certainly Taylor Moton will land at one of the tackle positions, preferably left tackle. That would allow Darryl Williams to slide back in at right tackle once he is healthy. If Moton is more valuable at right tackle then we still have Matt Kalil, who says he is healthy and ready to get back on the field.
Kalil rehabbed his knee throughout the season with the hopes of returning to the lineup, but it never got to that point.
“Just wasn’t ready. Didn’t pan out like I wanted it to,” Kalil said. “If I was ready to play I would have been out there. That obviously never happened.
“I’m looking to go into the offseason healthy and give it another go.”
I’m not as quick as others throw in the towel on the younger Kalil, but he is on his last opportunity. Plus that quote doesn’t really give me a big warm and fuzzy. Seems you need something driving you to get through a NFL season.
How about Tyler Larson at center? I’m thinking the Panthers could try to upgrade from Larson, who could still remain multi-position back-up. You can say the same for left guard Greg Van Roten. We could have two new free agents in both positions.
Best case scenario
The Panthers re-sign Darryl Williams to play right tackle next to Trai Turner at right guard. Matt Kalil kicks inside and proves to be a serviceable left guard. Taylor Moton turns into a Pro Bowl left tackle. Finally we sign a kick ass free agent to play center and BAM! There you go! Top 10 offensive line.
A more likely scenario
The Panthers cut Kalil taking a $14 million dead money hit (more than his $12 million salary). I do see the Panthers bringing back Darryl Williams, they would be crazy not too provided he is healthy. Less certain is whether Moton can play the left side. If Moton is smart he is spending the entire offseason boning up on playing the left side. If not Moton at left tackle then one of the two right tackles has to kick inside to guard. Moton seems like he would be better at left guard. In this scenario we have to bring in a free agent or pray we can find a decent option in the draft. That actually sounds too risky to fall in this category.
Worst case scenario
The Panthers essentially do nothing in free agency, instead choosing to rely on the draft and who they have on the roster at the moment. They let Williams walk for whatever reason. Turner and Moton return to the right side which is good, but we end up with Larson at center and Van Roten and Kalil filling out the left side. Does that line up instill any confidence Cam Newton won’t get roughed up yet again in 2019? It doesn’t too me either.
In the end we should expect something in the middle. The Panthers aren’t going to land one of the top free agents at left tackle. Actually they rarely land a top free agent at any position. This offseason that could change. We do after all have Marty Hurney back at general manager. As nice as it sounds I’m not holding my breath though it would be one way for new owner David Tepper to break with history. Spending big money to protect your $100 million quarterback seems like a shrewd move if you look at the potential benefits.
If the Panthers stick with their history they will bring in a second tier guy who we hope suddenly turns his career around. Our only other hope is we spend an early draft pick or two on the offensive line. Which do you think is more likely Panthers fans? I’ve got a poll for you.
Which of these two scenarios is more likely to happen this offseason?
This poll is closed
Panthers sign a top free agent offensive lineman
Panthers spend a first or second draft pick on an offensive lineman