Panthers: Addressing the wide receiver position in free agency

SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Wide receiver Paul Richardson
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Wide receiver Paul Richardson /

The Carolina Panthers have multiple options in free agency as they aim to fix the problems they have at wide receiver .

The Issue

The Panthers’ previous front office failed to build a wide receiver core with depth. Largely due to this failure, the Panthers’ exited the playoffs early. Additionally, the injuries received to by the Panthers’ wide outs forced Cam Newton to throw to the pitiful wide receiver trio of Brenton Bersin, Kaelin Clay, and Devin Funchess: all of whom failed to haul in potential game-altering throws. Just look at the Wild Card Game against the New Orleans Saints during the playoffs. Despite Cam zipping the ball into extremely tight windows, none of those receivers could catch!

Ex-General Manager Dave Gettleman completely failed to surround Cam Newton with weapons. To make matters worse, even after Dave Gettleman was fired, interim General Manager Marty Hurney traded away Kelvin Benjamin, Cam Newton’s favorite target. As a result of the decisions made by the Panthers’ previous front office, the to-be-determined general manager and future front office of the Panthers must restore depth at the wide receiver position. Assuming that he/she will look into the free agent pool, here is an analysis of a free agent that won’t fit with the Panthers and a free agent that will fit with the Panthers.

A free agent that won’t fit: Jarvis Landry

There is a big name wide receiver is poised to hit the open market this off season: Jarvis Landry. Unfortunately, he would be a terrible fit for the Carolina Panthers. Here’s why:

  1. Jarvis Landry will be too expensive for the Panther. The Panthers just don’t have enough cap space to afford the type of mega contract that a receiver of Landry’s caliber would command. According to  Over The Cap tracker, the Panthers have a cap space of only 20 million dollars.
  2. Jarvis Landry would cause schematic problems for the Panthers. Landry plays best in the slot, the same position that is expected to be filled by Curtis Samuel, an extremely dynamic rookie whose season was cut short by injury. Compounding on this issue is that when Christian McCaffrey is split out, he also fills the slot position. Rather than paying Landry a lucrative contract and stunting the growth of two young, talented players, the Carolina Panthers should explore other free agents.

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A free agent that will fit: Paul Richardson

So if Landry isn’t the free agent answer to the Panthers’ receiving woes, who is? His name is Paul Richardson, a current member of the Seattle Seahawks. Often overlooked in in an offensive comprised of Quarterback Russell Wilson, Tight End Jimmy Graham, and Wide Receiver Doug Baldwin, Paul Richardson is exactly the type of receiver that the Panthers need. Here’s a list of some reasons why.

    1. Paul Richardson is capable of moving the chains.  Look at any of these Next Gen Stats charts, and it is evident that Paul Richardson excels at connecting on 10 and out routes. This solves the most frustrating aspect of the Panthers’ offensive: the inability to achieve first downs.
    2. Paul Richardson catches 55% of all balls thrown is way. Per these Next Gen Stats, Richardson catches a whooping 55% of balls thrown his way, and Richardson is the third option in Seattle’s offense. Additionally, Paul Richardson excels at running after the catch; he routinely turns 10 yard catches into 15 and 20 yard gains.
    3. Paul Richardson is a legit deep threat. The Panthers have reliable weapons in Greg Olsen and Christian McCaffrey. However, they definitively lack a deep threat capable of stretching defenses.
    4. Paul Richardson will be cheaper. In a free agent market where the hottest commodity is Kirk Cousins, Paul Richardson is being brushed off. This is music to the ears of the front office as free agents with more media attention attract higher contracts.

Next: Running back situation is dire

Come back to Cat Crave in the near future for an in depth analysis of how the Carolina Panthers could make a trade for a certain wide receiver of the… Pittsburgh Steelers?