Why the Carolina Panthers rebuild might not take as long as you think
With a new head coach taking over and two of their biggest stars no longer with the team, the Carolina Panthers are expected to spend the 2020 season in full rebuild mode.
The 2020 offseason has just gotten underway but has already not been too kind to Carolina Panthers fans. All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly announced his retirement last month and Pro Bowl tight end Greg Olsen was released from the team earlier this week.
Kuechly and Olsen have been consistent playmakers that fans have become accustomed to expect big things from year after year.
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They will be extremely difficult to replace but unfortunately, that’s the nature of the NFL. Carolina is more than equipped enough to turn the team around with savvy General Manager Marty Hurney and program building head coach Matt Rhule leading the way.
The silver lining of a poor 2019 season is that the Panthers are set up with the No. 7 pick in each round of the 2020 NFL draft. This is a great position to be in to acquire solid young players that can contribute to the team right away as well as be developed into future stars.
The Panthers also have over 32 million dollars available in cap space to spend on free agents in 2020. While this is far from the league-high 90 million that the Miami Dolphins have available, it is a good enough amount to add some much-needed help in free-agency.
Let’s also not forget about the young talented core that Carolina already has intact. Running back Christian McCaffrey, wide receivers D.J. Moore and Curtis Samuel, pass rusher Brian Burns, linebacker Shaq Thompson and cornerback Donte Jackson are all talented playmakers that are under 25 years old.
That’s three offensive and three defensive studs that Rhule and company have to build around day one.
All of this suggests that a complete overhaul or rebuild may not be needed for the Panthers to be a playoff team in the near future.
If Cam Newton can start the season at full health, then some much-needed stability will be available at the games most important position, quarterback. I understand that this is a big if, but for the sake of this scenario let’s say he can be ready for Week 1 of the regular season without any setbacks.
Now let’s say the Panthers are able to draft Clemson’s linebacker Isaiah Simmons with the team’s first-round pick. Simmons is a complete linebacker that can do it all and comes from as close to a pro system as there is in college football.
The Panthers’ second and third-round draft picks will be used on the best players available. Say they get the best offensive lineman available in both rounds to protect Cam and CMC for years to come.
In free-agency, they might be able to add a pass-catching tight end like the Los Angeles Chargers’ Hunter Henry or the Atlanta Falcons’ Austin Hooper. We all know Cam loves to throw to the tight ends.
All of this could add to what is an already talented team. Not to mention that the team also has college football’s most dynamic play-caller, Joe Brady, as their offensive coordinator.
This article isn’t meant to persuade fans into believing that the Panthers will be in the Super Bowl next season. It very well could take three or four years for Carolina to make the postseason again. Nothing is guaranteed.
However, a team makes a huge leap seemingly every year in the NFL. In 2019 it was the San Francisco 49ers who went from a 4-12 team to a Super Bowl LIV appearance.
Why can’t the Panthers make a playoff run with a few key additions and a healthy Cam Newton?