The Carolina Panthers entered free agency with only one real pass rusher, Mario Addison, and two offensive tackles, Taylor Moton and Matt Kalil, on their roster. They had no safeties to speak of. They had also had their generational, All-Pro center retire with no replacement in the wings. With limited cap space they managed to sign a defensive end, Bruce Irvin, an offensive tackle, Daryl Williams, a center, Matt Paradis, and a safety, Eric Reid.
The front office didn’t have the resources to completely fill every need, but they gave as much attention as they could to each hole while maximizing value with each signing. Frankly, they are in a better position than I expected them to be in with a month to go before the draft.
The draft is the only real remaining opportunity for the Panthers to improve their roster. They probably have enough cap space to sign their rookies right now, but that’s about it. The rest of what they can do in free agency is churn the bottom of their roster with guys whose contracts won’t qualify as a Top 51 contract and thus won’t count against the cap.
Where does that leave the Panthers?
Still wanting pass rushers. The Panthers improved in free agency, assuming Williams can remain a healthy anchor for the right side of the offensive line, but they didn’t really change their needs. They still need at least one more defensive end, offensive tackle, and safety who can be expected to fill at least a rotational role. Their shrewdness in their free agency signings has lessened their needs and that allows them great flexibility to focus on their greatest one: defensive end.
Yes, technically the Irvin signing gives them the flexibility to focus as much on interior pass rushers as edge rushers in the draft, but they already have talented guys on the interior. They need talent across the line if they are going to take that next competitive step to get back to actually winning play off games.