Rating the Carolina Panther’s Off Season Moves

The Carolina Panthers have had a rough few years. Can They turn it around in the off-season?

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Ever since the legendary 2015 season, led by Cam Newton, it seems that the Panthers have been on a steady decline. In the 2018 season they only won 7 games, and in the last 3 seasons they have managed only 5 wins per season. The downfall of Cam Newton, Luke Keuchly’s and Greg Olsens retirement, combined with other factors have led to a rough few years for Panthers fans. Much of the recent struggles can be attributed to very poor quarterback decisions over the past few years. Teddy Bridgewater was brought in through free agency in 2020, and in 2021 there was a circus of QBS where Sam Darnold, PJ Walker, and Cam Newton all started games. Additionally the offensive line could arguably be the worst in the league. This has led to even poorer play by Quarterbacks, and star running back Christian McCaffrey getting absolutely torn apart.

D’Onta Foreman (Running Back)

This 25 year old from Texas was signed to a one year deal worth 2 million, with $940,000 of that guaranteed through the signing bonus.┬áForeman has averaged over 4 yards per carry in all the seasons he has played, except for the one year he was injured. This, however, is on low volume, (just 240 total runs), as he has never fully taken over the starting role. He also is more of a powerful runner than McCaffrey, providing a possible thunder to McCaffrey’s more agile lightning run style, or even giving a chance for McCaffrey to play as a slot receiver more, something that has been hinted at by the coaches. I think this was a good signing for the Panther’s. Christian McCaffrey has just played 10 games over the last season, and bringing in a solid running back for insurance is a good call. Even if he might never make a large impact for the team, it’s hard to go wrong with such a cheap ┬ádeal.

Overall Grade: B+

Ian Thomas (Tight End)

Ian Thomas was re-signed by the Panthers to a 3 year, almost 17 million dollar contract, with 8 million of that guaranteed. Thomas has played for the Panthers for 4 years now, and there are mixed opinions about him as a player. He is a solid but inconsistent blocking tight end, which is much needed for the Panther’s already struggling offensive line. However, he is not a very talented pass catcher, something that is very important for Tight Ends in most modern offenses. Additionally, at times he was outshined by rookie Tommy Tremble. Tremble had 20 catches and 180 yards in just his first year, compared to 18 catches for 188 yards in Ian Thomas’s 4th season. Tremble also had a higher overall PFF grade of 55.2 compared to Thomas’s PFF grade of 52.1. This is all before we even consider the contract, which is absolutely massive for a Tight End, especially one who may not even be the best on the team. Overall I think this was a poor decision, and the Panthers should not be wasting cap space on a player who is not much of a difference maker.

Overall Grade: D-

Austin Corbett (Guard)

Austin Corbett was signed by the Panthers in a 3 year deal worth 29.25 million. Corbett was drafted by the Browns in 2018, and last year was the starter for the Rams all throughout the regular season and play-offs in their Super Bowl run. All though he is not a flashy guard, this is a major first step in rebuilding the offensive line. He is a very strong run blocker, which should help McCaffrey thrive, something he already does with terrible run blocking. Although he is a little small for a guard, he is as athletic as any line players, and could fit on the right or left side. The one problem with this signing is that the Panthers desperately need more pass blocking, and Corbett is a much better run blocker than pass blocker. Overall this is a good move, but the Panthers have to make other offensive line moves in order to even have a chance of being good in 2022.

Overall Grade: A

Donte Jackson (Corner Back)

Donte Jackson was already a key part of the Panthers defense, but was signed to a 3 year 35 million dollar extension with almost 17 million of that guaranteed. Jackson has been with the Panthers for 4 years, and was drafted in the 2nd round by them in 2018. He is a very athletic cornerback, and was most likely going to have his best season of his career in 2021 if not for a groin injury in week 12. The Panther’s corner back position is one of their few strong points, with Jackson being accompanied by first round picks Jaycee Horn and CJ Henderson. This solidifies their secondary for the next few seasons, and allows the Panthers to focus on other positions for the time being. Jackson has 12 career interceptions, and his best football seems to be ahead of him. Although there some injury concerns, 10 games in the last 3 seasons, this a ┬ánecessary move from the Panthers.

Overall Grade: A-

The Panthers have been straight up bad the last few seasons, and hopefully some of these off-season moves can start to turn them around. There have been an assortment of other moves made, which I will possibly review in the future, but so far these are the biggest changes. The Panthers do have the 6th round pick in the 2022 draft, and most fans are hoping they pick an offensive line man. Although the Quarterback situation is dire, the quarterbacks in this draft class are not great, and solidifying the offensive line for years to come could be the best move the Panthers make all off-season.