Carolina Panthers complete rebuild becoming a reality

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) David Tepper and Marty Hurney
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) David Tepper and Marty Hurney /

As the Carolina Panthers offseason unfolds, the more a complete rebuild seems likely.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper offered collegiate coach Matt Rhule an opportunity he couldn’t refuse. A New York native, he was widely rumored to be a top target for the Giants vacancy but Tepper and the Panthers top brass flew to Texas and made certain Rhule would land in Carolina.

A somewhat surprising move given the list of potential candidates, but Tepper is quickly becoming known for his willingness to take a chance and do things his own way. Rhule has one NFL season of experience (2012) as an assistant but a strong background in reshaping and bringing programs back to relevance in a relatively short time period.

It is this distinct characteristic that was widely touted during Rhule’s introduction although it seemed a bit puzzling at the time. Yes, the Panthers didn’t make the playoffs during Tepper’s first two seasons but they were present in four of the five preceding, including a Super Bowl appearance.

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Back-to-back winning seasons continue to elude the franchise but since 2011 Carolina is 79-71-1, far from in need of a complete overhaul as there are many teams much worse over the same time period. Yet, a coach known for taking both Temple and Baylor from forgotten to each of their respective title games in three seasons was hired.

News of linebacker Luke Kuechly retiring came as a shock to many but it is doubtful Tepper wasn’t aware of his upcoming decision. Knowing Carolina would soon be losing arguably the best linebacker to ever play the game put the Panthers at a crossroads.

Given the uncertainty surrounding quarterback Cam Newton, it seems Tepper is strategically putting in place pieces for a complete rebuild which is likely to include moving on from the former No. 1 pick and long time quarterback.

Next. Kuechly vs. Other Hall of Fame Linebackers. dark

General manager Marty Hurney, Tepper, Rhule and his staff have some serious questions to answer which are not only going to shape the future of the franchise in 2020, but beyond.