This was a tough offseason in Carolina. Left tackle Jordan Gross retired, quarterback Cam Newton underwent ankle surgery and defensive end Greg Hardy was implicated in an assault case. How's that for introducing uncertainty into three of the most important positions on an NFL roster?
"The biggest issue is franchising Hardy and giving him a $1.3 million advance now that he could miss half the year, at least," said the GM, who gave the Panthers a D-plus grade. "Then they took players with character risks in the first two rounds, which tends to backfire when you take them that early."
Polian has wondered in the past whether Newton would hold up physically for the long term given his style. That could be tougher if the offensive line drops off. On defense, Ealy possesses some of the traits that made Hardy effective.
"Some things out of their control have really hurt them," Yates said. "The GM gets credit for sticking with the coach when people reported he was moving on. He is also dealing with cap-related problems left over from the previous GM. They did really well to restructure some deals. They negotiated Charles Godfrey down. And I cannot blame them for moving on from some of their receivers. By midseason, we could be saying the receiving core is on par with what they had last year."
While Williamson said he thought the Redskins and Cowboys would have to win shootouts, he sees Carolina having to win ugly.
"You can say the secondary, offensive line and receivers were not great last year and they won the division anyway, but that doesn't mean they should just ignore those positions," Williamson said.
In this case, the Panthers might not have had much choice.
No I'm not an insider, but I have ways of getting information...*gives you a cock-eyed look*