When the Panthers didn’t go out and make a splash early in free agency, I understood. They didn’t have a lot of money to re-sign some of their own free agents or to get some proven veterans to fill some of the holes. Instead, they decided to try to lock-up defensive end Greg Hardy by placing the franchise tag on him, which ate up a little over $13 million in cap space.
Jordan Gross retired, and the team jettisoned Steve Smith, creating two more holes and further depleting the Panthers’ offense.
Still, I bought into the plan. Surely, I thought, help would be coming via the draft. I posted on twitter that I wouldn’t get worried until after the draft, and that come training camp, I was sure that there would be solutions in place.
I’m starting to get a bit worried.
The Panthers addressed a need at WR by taking Kelvin Benjamin with the 28th overall pick, however there are questions regarding how well he’ll be able to fit into the NFL game. Reports cite Benjamin of scoring a 7 our of 50 on the Wonderlic test during the NFL Combine, which raises questions about his ability to handle the NFL from a mental level.
Perhaps the biggest cause for concern is that the Panthers don’t know who will be the left or right tackles heading into the 2014 season. The Panthers think that Byron Bell will be a better fit at left tackle than he was at right, which isn’t necessarily a ringing endorsement for him. Right tackle is a crap shoot. Is it Garry Williams? Is it Nate Chandler? We have no idea at this point.
I suppose I should drink my own Kool-Aid and realize that there are still months before training camp starts, and that the Panthers have plenty of time to pick up someone off the scrap heap to fill-in at right tackle. However, now that the draft has come and gone and the Panthers haven’t satisfactorily filled their needs, the level of concern has been raised.
After all, you draft for talent and not for need, but when they’ve not addressed needs in free agency, how else are these glaring holes going to be filled?