A year removed from a remarkable Super Bowl run the Carolina Panthers will head into the offseason facing many questions. The Panthers watched as everything they worked for fell in the trenches and their division rival made it to the big game. But, as they enter a new season what changes must be made to get back to their winning ways?
As the Panthers get ready for the free agent period and NFL Draft they must address their roster needs. Here are 5 questions for the 2017 Carolina Panthers.[Mark]
Should the Panthers cut/trade Jonathan Stewart?
As good as Stewart has been for the Panthers throughout his career it’s time they cut ties. He has been the backbone of this team for years but he’s been injury prone and that has taken away from their offensive scheme. In the last three seasons, Stewart has produced but, he has yet to run for 1000 yards or play the entire 16 games. His production has been steady, and that’s expected with a running QB like Cam Newton but the Panthers should expect more. If they do not cut him outright then a trade must be looked into.
Who can help Kelvin Benjamin on the outside?
The Panthers have their #1 option in Benjamin but he needs help on the opposite side. Ted Ginn is proving that he can still produce with another solid season but the Panthers need a younger, faster counterpart to pair with Benjamin and let Ginn handle the middle of the field. Their best option is to stay away from the draft and the young receivers and go after a player that has the experience needed to make the plays when needed. Kenny Britt is a good choice along with Pierre Garcon of Alshon Jeffery. Newton, with a host of great receivers to pair with TE Greg Olson, will have the Panthers back atop the league in offensive categories.
How do they handle Luke Kuechly?
Remember Dan Morgan? True Panthers fans remember the fearless MLB who terrorized offenses while with the Panthers but concussions and other injuries forced him to leave the game early and it looks as if the Panthers may be in the same boat again with Luke. Luke lost a large chunk of the 2016 season to a concussion and while the Panthers didn’t want to rush him back they must now take into account the Morgan effect. Kuechly, along with Von Miller is one the best LBs in the NFL. His time missed hurt the defense and the entire morale of the team. If Newton is the heart then Kuechly is the glue that holds it all together. Should the Panthers keep him on ice, trade or release the beast? It’s a hard decision but it’s a realistic one the Panthers must think long and hard about if he goes down with another.
Should the Panthers take a gamble on Darrelle Revis?
If the Panther are to get back atop the NFL elite then their secondary must be upgraded. Last season the team lost one of the top 5 cornerbacks in the league when Josh Norman bolted for the Redskins. With the team looking to go younger and cheaper, the Panthers attacked the NFL Draft and went DB crazy. Needless to say, it didn’t work out as the Panthers finished 29th in passing yards allowed. If the Jets are serious about a roster reset then the Panthers must hit Revis hard. Revis has admitted that his head wasn’t into the season and a change may be what’s best for him. Revis can tutor the young core while earning his stripes back as the best in the league.
Who to draft, Leonard Fournette or Dalvin Cook?
Cam Newton is a great passer and runner and he needs a back that can not only get between the tackles and the edges but also catch the ball. Cook is great in all three phases while Fournette is great at two. Sometimes, drafting a player hinges on what’s best for the team and not the name. Speed wise they may be the same but it’s something about Cook that screams Panthers. The Panthers need a back that can move the chains from the backfield or from the passing attack. Cook is the top choice here.