The combine has come and gone and teams are now focused on the free agency period. With new head coach Matt Ruhle what the scheme is going to look like is yet to be seen. A few positions that are a must are interior offensive linemen, offensive tackle, wide receiver, edge rusher, and defensive back. The Panthers may be looking to upgrade several positions, but this may not be the best year to look for those in free agency. Many big-name free agents will either be franchised tagged or will sign long term deals with their current teams.
In one of the most shocking moves of the offseason, the Panthers traded five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner for offensive tackle Russel Okung. This could put them in the market for either Andrus Peat or Joe Thuney. Either player could come in and replace Turner with the minimum drop-off. Peat may be the cheaper option of the two. As a starter for the New Orleans Saints, he is familiar with the division and could use a change of scenery. Thuney may be the best interior linemen in this year’s free agency period. Over the last three seasons, he has been the leagues best pass-blocking guard.
The off-season trade for Russell Okung may have fixed the issue at the offensive tackle position, but if the Panthers decide to look into the free agency market, a few players stand out. Bryan Bulaga or Jake Conklin would be the players that stand out in the tackle market. Conklin would be the first choice as he is five years younger than Bulaga and still has his best years in front of him. The team may still look to draft a tackle with the seventh overall pick in this year’s draft.
Amari Cooper and A.J. Green are excepted to get the franchise tags from their respective teams. Leaving Emanuel Sanders would be the best option at wide receiver. Carolina needs a number one receiver. D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel are nice pieces but not number one receivers. If Sanders is not available, the other options are Robby Anderson, Breshad Perriman, Randall Cobb, and Demarcus Robinson. This year’s draft is one of the deepest wide receivers drafts in years. If the Panthers miss in Free agency, they could use the draft to fill the void.
If the Panthers had a choice, I am sure someone like Jadeveon Clowney would be at the top of the list of edge rushers. This year’s free-agent class of edge rushers include Dante Fowler Jr, Bud Dupree, Matt Judon, and Robert Quinn. Any of these players could provide a spark in the pass rush that was missing from the Panthers defense last season.
Carolina would be hard-pressed to sign a group of these players due to only having $32 million available space for the upcoming year. Look for them to make a push for one or two of them and fill other needs in the draft.