Last season, due to the lockout, the Panthers were affected in much more of a negative way than most other teams.
New coaches, new players, new schemes, new QB, no off season.
The good news is that this season the reverse should occur. The Panthers should see an accelerated improvement that other teams who are settled in to years worth of a scheme will not see.
Between individual workouts, weight training, class and film room, one could assume that there are plenty of "light bulb" moments as they reflect now on what they were doing last season.
Bottom line, even if the Panthers don't sign one more free agent, they are already a better and more prepared team than last season. Optimistically throw in the long list of injured players and we are competitive and in the hunt.