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TheSpecialJuan

Bill Barnwell: 5 offseason moves Panthers must make

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1. Address the tackle position. The Panthers have some work to do. The good news is that second-year tackle Taylor Moton had a very good season on the right side and appears to be locked into that role for the years to come. No worries there. Moton took over for Daryl Williams, who missed virtually all of 2018 with knee injuries. More on him in a second.

The left side of the line isn't quite as enticing. One of Dave Gettleman's last moves as Panthers general manager was to sign Matt Kalil to an inexplicable five-year, $55.5 million deal before the 2017 season. The oft-injured Kalil had a subpar 2017 season before missing the entire 2018 campaign with a knee injury. Chris Clark, who became the starter in Kalil's absence, was a stopgap and is now a free agent.

The Panthers find themselves in a difficult place with Kalil, who has a $12.5 million cap hit in 2019. If they cut him, they'll owe $14.7 million in dead money. Even if they designate Kalil as a post-June 1 release, they would owe $4.9 million in 2019 before a $9.8 million charge in 2020. No team wants to eat that much dead money, but Kalil might not justify the roster spot if the Panthers can find a competent left tackle.

 

 

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2. Find a free safety. The Panthers re-signed Eric Reid after he impressed as a midseason signing, but they probably need to find him a partner in center field. Mike Adams, who was the starter a year ago, is probably best suited for a reserve player/coach role at this point. Carolina has 2018 third-rounder Rashaan Gaulden in the mix, but he's still converting to the position after playing mostly corner in college and likely profiles as a strong safety, where Reid is best.

The good news for the Panthers is that the veteran market is deep at free safety, given the presence of Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu and several others. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could make sense here given his likely price tag.

3. Add an edge rusher. The Panthers finished 25th in sack rate last season, with a surprisingly mediocre season from Kawann Short; the edge rushers behind Mario Addison didn't do very much to move the needle, either. Addison finished with 10 sacks, but Julius Peppers was the only other defender with more than 3.5 takedowns, and the future Hall of Famer just announced his retirement. Wes Horton, who started eight games a year ago, is also a free agent.

Again, the Panthers find themselves in the right moment for adding defensive line help, given that this is a draft that is absolutely loaded with front-seven defenders. GM Marty Hurney should be able to grab an impactful pass-rusher for coach Ron Rivera with the 16th overall pick. The Panthers also could dip into the free-agent market for help, where a veteran such as Benson Mayowa or Bruce Irvin could contribute in a rotational role.

4. Decline the fifth-year option on Vernon Butler. The Louisiana Tech product simply hasn't improved since entering the NFL, and in a Panthers organization that has done a good job of developing defensive linemen, the onus for that would seem to fall on Butler. The 24-year-old was a healthy scratch in December. It wouldn't be a shock if he were on another roster come Week 1. A reunion with Gettleman in New York is entirely plausible.

5. Draft a replacement for Ryan Kalil. Carolina's longtime center (and Matt's brother) retired this offseason, leaving the Panthers with a hole at the pivot. There are centers such as Mitch Morse and Matt Paradis on the free-agent market, but the Panthers might prefer to lean toward the draft for cap reasons. Carolina already met with NC State product Garrett Bradbury at the Senior Bowl, and adding at least one rookie to compete with Tyler Larsen for the starting job would make sense.

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6 minutes ago, TheSpecialJuan said:

2. Find a free safety. The Panthers re-signed Eric Reid after he impressed as a midseason signing, but they probably need to find him a partner in center field. Mike Adams, who was the starter a year ago, is probably best suited for a reserve player/coach role at this point. Carolina has 2018 third-rounder Rashaan Gaulden in the mix, but he's still converting to the position after playing mostly corner in college and likely profiles as a strong safety, where Reid is best.

The good news for the Panthers is that the veteran market is deep at free safety, given the presence of Earl Thomas, Tyrann Mathieu and several others. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix could make sense here given his likely price tag.

3. Add an edge rusher. The Panthers finished 25th in sack rate last season, with a surprisingly mediocre season from Kawann Short; the edge rushers behind Mario Addison didn't do very much to move the needle, either. Addison finished with 10 sacks, but Julius Peppers was the only other defender with more than 3.5 takedowns, and the future Hall of Famer just announced his retirement. Wes Horton, who started eight games a year ago, is also a free agent.

Again, the Panthers find themselves in the right moment for adding defensive line help, given that this is a draft that is absolutely loaded with front-seven defenders. GM Marty Hurney should be able to grab an impactful pass-rusher for coach Ron Rivera with the 16th overall pick. The Panthers also could dip into the free-agent market for help, where a veteran such as Benson Mayowa or Bruce Irvin could contribute in a rotational role.

4. Decline the fifth-year option on Vernon Butler. The Louisiana Tech product simply hasn't improved since entering the NFL, and in a Panthers organization that has done a good job of developing defensive linemen, the onus for that would seem to fall on Butler. The 24-year-old was a healthy scratch in December. It wouldn't be a shock if he were on another roster come Week 1. A reunion with Gettleman in New York is entirely plausible.

5. Draft a replacement for Ryan Kalil. Carolina's longtime center (and Matt's brother) retired this offseason, leaving the Panthers with a hole at the pivot. There are centers such as Mitch Morse and Matt Paradis on the free-agent market, but the Panthers might prefer to lean toward the draft for cap reasons. Carolina already met with NC State product Garrett Bradbury at the Senior Bowl, and adding at least one rookie to compete with Tyler Larsen for the starting job would make sense.

Bradberry would be a great pick up in the 2nd or 3rd round.

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the scary thing is some of these issues we have had for years...how long has been looking for a safety, an edge rusher and a tackle?

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31 minutes ago, countryboi said:

the scary thing is some of these issues we have had for years...how long has been looking for a safety, an edge rusher and a tackle?

It seems like that but it hasn’t been that long. Last year really put a bad taste in our mouths because the entire team blew up in epic fashion. 2016 sucked but we lost almost the entire OL after we had a top 5 OL in 2015 and Gano blew 4 games by himself. Ignoring 2016 with those injuries and a bum kicker, we’ve been 32-8 in the regular season before the 1-7 collapse. We had a top 5 OL in 2015 and Oher literally died in 2016. Last year losing Williams sucked because we might have actually had our best tandem in years. In 2017, Addison and Peppers both had 11 sacks and in 2015-2017, we were second to only Pittsburgh (by 2) in total sacks. We actually had a pro-bowl safety in 2015.

Anyway, it may seem like some of these problems have been “years” but pass rush was a problem last year. The 3 years before we were as good as anybody. OL has unfortunately been an injury thing outside of Matt Kalil. When healthy, we’ve typically had an above average OL. Turner, Norwell, Williams and Ryan have all been pro-bowl or all-pro and Moton was really good in his first year starting. If we let Norwell and Williams walk with Ryan retired, then we’re just plain dumb. Safety has been an issue since Coleman starting sucking.

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In today's NFL with the salary cap every single team has holes in their roster.  This team has three of the most dynamic players in the NFL with Luke, CMC, and Cam.  If all three can stay healthy, anything is possible (although the D could use an edge rusher).  

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1:  The numbers for Kalil are a bit misleading they way he worded it.  That 14.7m has already been paid.  The team is going to "eat" that no matter whay, only question is what years you account for it.  Him playing this year doesn't decrease that at all.

His new money for this year is $7m.  That is what you have to decide if he is worth it.

4:  Isn't the fifth year option for Butler in 2020?

https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/carolina-panthers/vernon-butler-18978/

At this point he is still cheap and you hope he has a break out year.  If not you decline the option next.

 

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13 minutes ago, AU-panther said:

1:  The numbers for Kalil are a bit misleading they way he worded it.  That 14.7m has already been paid.  The team is going to "eat" that no matter whay, only question is what years you account for it.  Him playing this year doesn't decrease that at all.

His new money for this year is $7m.  That is what you have to decide if he is worth it.

4:  Isn't the fifth year option for Butler in 2020?

https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/carolina-panthers/vernon-butler-18978/

At this point he is still cheap and you hope he has a break out year.  If not you decline the option next.

 

 

  1: Exactly. Which is why it’s comical to consider keeping him. 

2. You have to decide after year 3 if you’re going to use the 5th year option. It guarantees the option for injury for the player.

3. Speaking of 5th year options....why are we paying Shaq 9.2M again? 

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26 minutes ago, Toomers said:

 

  1: Exactly. Which is why it’s comical to consider keeping him. 

2. You have to decide after year 3 if you’re going to use the 5th year option. It guarantees the option for injury for the player.

3. Speaking of 5th year options....why are we paying Shaq 9.2M again? 

1.  It is amazing that not only fans but media really don't' understand how contracts work.

2. Thank you for the info about the 5th year option.  For some reason I was thinking it was later when we had to decide.

3.  Especially if we are going to a 3-4.  That is a lot of money to be tied up in inside backers.

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Shaq may not be worth $9.4 mil but replacing him after TD already retired is going to be a big undertaking in an offseason that is already filled with a lot of needs.

I see post after post detailing the case for cutting about half the roster but the issue is we do actually have to replace them. That is where you get a guy like Shaq making $9.4 mil. And, there is also the chance we extend him and get some relief. 

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6 minutes ago, kungfoodude said:

Shaq may not be worth $9.4 mil but replacing him after TD already retired is going to be a big undertaking in an offseason that is already filled with a lot of needs.

I see post after post detailing the case for cutting about half the roster but the issue is we do actually have to replace them. That is where you get a guy like Shaq making $9.4 mil. And, there is also the chance we extend him and get some relief. 

How hard is it? He was drafted to be a coverage LB and doesn’t cover well. Not counting covering WRs. Not his fault. He’s not bad at all. But OLBs that don’t rush the passer and can’t cover don’t command much. Elite OLBs like Lavonte David was only get 10M/yr because they don’t get sacks. 

  And I never said cut him. An agreeable extension in the 4/26 range would be fine. But giving him 9M to “find out” if he can play after 4 years doesn’t sit right.

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4 minutes ago, Toomers said:

How hard is it? He was drafted to be a coverage LB and doesn’t cover well. Not counting covering WRs. Not his fault. He’s not bad at all. But OLBs that don’t rush the passer and can’t cover don’t command much. Elite OLBs like Lavonte David was only get 10M/yr because they don’t get sacks. 

  And I never said cut him. An agreeable extension in the 4/26 range would be fine. But giving him 9M to “find out” if he can play after 4 years doesn’t sit right.

I think we need to decide if he is part of our future or not. If so, time to extend and get some short term cap relief. If not, time to cut ties. Cutting ties is tough for the same reasons that I skewered the idea of cutting Addison and Poe in another thread. It isn't that it doesn't make sense as an individual move but when you look at the scope of the guys we are losing to free agency, losing to retirement and are likely to cut, they have to be replaced somehow. You only have so many draft picks, all of which are a gamble. There is only so much money we can reasonably spend in free agency. There is a good chance if you gut the entire roster that you probably get worse and not better. 

I don't mean to say that if we cut Shaq alone the roster will go to poo but we can only make so many moves in an offseason and expect to improve. 

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