Panthers ring in pivotal new league year

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 12: Thomas Davis
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 12: Thomas Davis /

As of 4:00pm ET on March 14 the Carolina Panthers and every other NFL team officially began the 2018 season…

Fans of teams around the league anticipate the March 14 deadline as a new beginning and fresh start at the pursuit of a Lombardi Trophy. The Carolina Panthers are no different and right now, every team is on an equal playing field. Anticipating a plethora of moves as news begins to leak about potential contracts and free agents on the move, for many teams it didn’t disappoint.

Trades became official, including the Panthers acquiring veteran receiver Torrey Smith. A few high profile quarterbacks changes also took place with Kirk Cousins, Alex Smith and DeShone Kizer now suiting up for the Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Green Bay Packers, respectively.

Carolina currently has a number of positions in need of addressing, especially as both guard Andrew Norwell and defensive tackle Star Lotulelei left Carolina, in addition to the trade of cornerback Daryl Worley and prior departures of running back Jonathan Stewart, safety Kurt Coleman and defensive end Charles Johnson.

General manage Marty Hurney made the move to get Smith and has been reported to be signing cornerback Bashaud Breeland but two additions against so many key departures fills like bailing water with a Solo cup as the ship sinks.

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The Panthers did receive some positive news as the league year began with the announced return of defensive lineman Julius Peppers for his seventeenth NFL season. The future Hall of Fame member provided a spark last year on defense, playing more than expected while accumulating 11 sacks and 33 tackles.

While it is great to have Peppers back for one more season, the contract is for just one year and it is likely he will retire following. No official announcement has been made but others have already disclosed their intent to retire after this season.

Linebacker Thomas Davis and center Ryan Kalil are done,  plus Carolina now has the anticipated departure of Peppers and potentially tight end Greg Olsen. Safety Mike Adams, who enters season No. 15 this year is also a candidate for retirement. Should all of these come to fruition, Hurney would be responsible for replacing over one-half of the starting 22 in just two years – five of whom played 10 or more seasons with the Panthers.

Next: Panthers Free Agent Targets

The next step in the process begins next month with the NFL Draft, arguably one of the most important in Panthers franchise history.