Recently the Carolina Panthers had a Free Agent Freenzy that led Jeremy Igo (Carolina Huddle) to say it was the most exciting free agent period in franchise history. And given the names signed, including former Panthers Julius Peppers and Captain Munnerlyn, that statement might not be far-fetched. These signings, though, ar far from enough to make the shaken up roster look good. Given the recent losses to free agency and retirement, Carolina could use more depth at certain positions.
Since the 2015 Super Bowl campaign the cornerback position doesn't look so good. The retirement of Charles Tillman and later departure of Josh Norman put GM Dave Gettleman's back against the wall leading to de 2016 NFL Draft, in which the Panthers drafted three corners in a row. But not even that was enough. During the disapointing 2016 season rookies James Bradberry and Daryl Worley stepped up and became the starters, but also 3rd-year Bene' Benwikere was cut just after 4 games in the regular season.
This offseason Carolina signed CB Captain Munnerlyn to a 4-year $21 million deal to fill the nickel corner hole created since his departure to Minnesota. But in case of injury, the roster as of now have just Tyler Patmon, Jeff Richards, Zack Sanchez and Lou Young, none with more than three season in the league.
In order to add depth and experience to the position, GM Dave Gettleman could bring in former Browns CB Tramon Williams. In his 10 season in the NFL, Williams started in 121 regular season games and won the Super Bowl XLV with the Green Bay Packers. He also has the size (6-0) the Panthers expect from an outside corner and could play the same role as Tillman, while helping develop the youngsters at the position.
After the struggles of K Graham Gano in the year missing 8 field goals and the negative record in games decided by less than 3 points, Ron Rivera said the Panthers were expected to bring competition at the position. During the 2016 season, Gano competed with Swayze Waters, the 2014 CFL's Most Outstanding Special Teams Player. Apparently that was not enough competition.
So the Panthers should search for someone who already kicked in the NFL. Two names come up in the free agency: former Eagles Caleb Sturgis and former Browns Travis Coons. Sturgis ranks 5th in WalterFootball's 2017 Free Agent K Rankings in the wake of his best season in four years (85.4% FG, 96.8% PAT. Coons (14th in the Rankins) offers the most upside, though, kicking for 87.5% of field goals and 91.7% of extra points in his rookie season. With the Browns.
The offensive tackle situation in Carolina is well known league-wide. In the wake of Mike Remmers free agency and Michael Oher's concussion, the Panthers signed Ryan Kalil's little brother Matt Kalil to a $55.5 million 5-year deal hoping he will take the left tackle duties, pushing Oher to RT once he returns from the protocol. The problem is that if he doesn't return or any of the startes goes down with an injury, the next man up is 3rd-year Daryl Williams who filled in RT for the final games of last season.
The free agency market and draft does not offer much of a help in terms of depth at the position, but Carolina could find in Byron Bell, a former Panther who started 56 regular season games during his 2011-2014 stint with the team and ranks 22th in WalterFootball's 2017 Free Agent OT Rankings, the desired depth. Bell already knows the coaching staff and could provide some stability to the position in Carolina.