I gotta say I’ve enjoyed this Panthers free agency period, even if they choose to announce signings at inopportune times! They’ve made what I would call shrewd moves to address some holes without making a whole lot of splashes. Offensively, we’re seeing the biggest transition this offseason since the team drafted Cam Newton, between bringing in a whole bunch of talented offensive coaches, acquiring the 1st overall pick, and subsequently losing DJ Moore as a result. Let’s dive into the offense as it stands now, and where we go from here.
Key Additions: Andy Dalton
The Panthers signed Andy Dalton to a 2 year deal that is very team friendly for someone who could end up starting week 1. Adding Dalton puts the Panthers into position to draft whomever they like most at #1 overall, as they don’t have to be thrust right into starting. The NFL rumor rounds say that the Panthers are open to dealing Matt Corral, but at the moment I wouldn’t expect any more moves here.
Key Additions: Miles Sanders
The Panthers allowed D’Onta Foreman to test free agency, where he took the chance to start for the Bears following the signing of Miles Sanders. Sanders is coming off his best season as a pro for the Eagles, logging 11 TDs rushing. He’s averaging 5 yards per carry on his career, and while I wouldn’t say the Panthers offensive line is equivalent to the Eagles by any means, the offensive line is definitely a strength for this squad. The Panthers rushing attack should be featured as they adapt their offense to a rookie quarterback.
Sanders, Chuba Hubbard, and Raheem Blackshear are the current projected RB group, though I wouldn’t be surprised by another cheap FA signing or a late round draft pick. The room could use a bruiser.
Key Additions: Justin McCray, Bradley Bozeman (re-signed)
As I stated earlier, the Panthers offensive line is a/the strength going into 2023. The Panthers will return all 5 starters to end the season, and bringing back Bozeman on a 3 year deal is huge for this group. Offensive line continuity is generally pivotal to teams who remain competitive year after year, and currently we can expect this group to remain intact for at least two more seasons. Currently, the Panthers set depth behind them is McCray (who has played every position on the line), Cade Mays, and Sam Tecklenburg. I’d expect them to bring in at least one more player via free agency after releasing Pat Elflein and letting Cam Erving walk in free agency. Particularly, a tackle would be a fine addition.
Key Additions: Hayden Hurst
Hayden Hurst provided the tight end room with a much needed proven receiver for the tight end room, having logged 52 receptions for the Joe Burrow led offense last season. Hurst will provide a nice security blanket for the Panthers next quarterback. The rest of the tight end room is a bit of a question mark, as Ian Thomas took a pay cut to remain with the team after a relatively uneventful 2022 as a receiver. Thomas can block though, and should function more as an extension of the run game this season.
Tommy Tremble is a holdover from the Matt Rhule regime, and flashed some brilliant receiving touchdowns, but the consistency wasn’t necessarily there. I want to see how this coaching staff develops him going into year 3. The rest of the room is rounded out by restricted free agents Stephen Sullivan and Giovanni Ricci, both of whom got some solid work last year. Ricci in particular is someone I like as a flexible piece, but both could be nudged out by newly drafted players. The Panthers 2nd or 3rd round pick could be used on a tight end in a relatively deep class.
Key Additions: Zero
I saved this one for last because it is the most obvious and glaring position of need on offense. DJ Moore’s departure left a thin group even thinner, as Robby/Robbie/Chosen Anderson was traded in the middle of last season. The top 3 at the moment are Terrace Marshall, Shi Smith, and Laviska Shenault. While Marshall flashed his potential in 2022, it wasn’t enough for me to be comfortable throwing him into the WR1 role, and I don’t believe this coaching staff will do that.
The Panthers brought in Adam Thielen and DJ Chark for visits this past week, and if I’m being honest I’d be happy to see the team add them both. However, they both walked away without a deal in place which leads me to believe the Panthers offered market value for them both, as the receiving group of this free agency period has moved incredibly slow across the board. I could see them looking at Sammy Watkins, Kenny Golladay, or Jarvis Landry as well. Bottom line: they need to sign SOMEBODY to function as a veteran. I fully expect them to draft a wide receiver or two as well. Also, CJ Saunders and Derek Wright both reportedly had great camps last season, this may be the year one of them gets a spot on the back end of the depth chart.
Who would you like to see the Panthers bring in on offense? Sound off below in the comments!