The Carolina Panthers veteran departures continue…
Like it or not, the Carolina Panthers are making significant changes under David Tepper. While the relatively new owner has been reconstructing Carolina behind the scenes since taking over prior to the 2018 season, football operations remained largely in tact until this past December.
After losing four straight following the midway point, Tepper elected to relieve Ron Rivera of his coaching duties. Interim Perry Fewell couldn’t right the ship and Carolina eventually lost eight in a row to end last year. Former Baylor coach Matt Rhule was tabbed by Tepper to take over with a lengthy contract, presumably to ease any immediate pressures of winning.
While the Panthers have undoubtedly made a commitment to lowering their roster’s average age by moving toward younger playmakers, many of the changes have been hard to swallow for fans. Since taking over, Tepper, along with general manager Marty Hurney, have orchestrated or witnessed the departures of long-time Panthers – Thomas Davis, Luke Kuechly, Ryan Kalil and Julius Peppers. Three – Kuechly, Kalil and Peppers initially elected to retire although Kalil did return with another team last season.
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Davis, a fan favorite and career Panthers player until 2019 (13 seasons) was essentially told his services were no longer needed on defense. Unfortunately, the same is now true for tight end Greg Olsen (9 seasons) and quarterback Cam Newton could be next. Olsen, who arrived via trade before 2011, is arguably one of the best tight ends to play during the past decade. He and Newton combined to rewrite the record books as Olsen became the first player at his position to record three-consecutive 1,000 yard receiving seasons.
After “mutually” parting ways, Olsen recently signed with the Seahawks for another year and Panthers fans will only be able to watch from afar in 2020. Wanting to play for a Super Bowl contender, it’s unfortunate Tepper, Hurney and the Panthers couldn’t find a way to keep him on the roster.
Carolina obviously can’t retain every star player forever but adding Davis, Kuechly, Peppers, Kalil, Olsen and potentially Newton to the list of recent departures has been heart breaking.