It’s a new regime in Carolina as Ron Riveria is out as head coach and Matt Rhule is in. Cam Newton could be the next one out the door. There seems to be a lot more questions than answers at this point, despite a solid core of key players. So how do they make the jump from bottom feeders in the NFC South back to relevance? Here’s what I’d prioritize this off season.
Carolina Panthers Team Needs
It is unclear at this point whether new head coach Matt Rhule will want Cam Newton back, but I’m sure he will want his own guy. Even if Cam Newton is brought back he is in the last year of his contract and would likely serve as a bridge (seeing as his best football is behind him and not in front of him) quarterback will be towards the top of the priority list.
The Panthers really struggled to stop the run last year. On top of that they are losing some big names from their defensive tackle group, such as Gerald McCoy. Getting more physical and tougher up front is a must for the Panthers this off season.
James Bradberry is an unrestricted free agent and will likely be seeing a nice payday this offseason. If the Panthers decide they don’t want to be the team to give him that payday then they’ll need a corner to replace him. This could be an option in round two, if not in round one depending on how the board falls.
Greg Olsen has had a fantastic career, but sadly it is coming to an end. The Panthers have to look toward the future and draft his replacement. Ian Thomas is a nice backup in Carolina, but I don’t think he will even be that match-up problem you would want in a number one tight end. I’d expect the Panthers to draft one in the middle rounds.
Tre Boston is a free agent and the Panthers haven’t given indication that they want to lock him up with a long term contract. So they will need to bring in someone to provide coverage over the top to compliment Eric Reid who is more of an enforcer in the box than a coverage guy. If they can get a single high coverage safety on day two then it would really boost this defense.