Carolina Panthers: Making sense of what makes no sense

Numerous Carolina Panthers exit as management decides to completely rip apart the old foundation. At this point things have become unpredictable – or have they?

The Carolina Panthers have officially made up their minds with an intention to trade Cam Newton and release Eric Reid. What was originally thought to be a restructure has turned into a full-fledged rebuild.

Despite recent sentiments (and even the signing of Teddy Bridgewater), the commitment to drafting their next franchise quarterback has become grossly evident. Now it becomes a question of whether the team really does plan on aiming for a quarterback in the 2021 draft or whether they’ll go for a quarterback this year with the seventh-overall pick.

If it’s the former then Carolina might be taking a serious dive this season and shopping more players around for draft capital in an effort to construct a more complete rebuild. At this point it’s the only scenario that makes sense from an owner’s perspective.

The top-down re-creation of the franchise is halfway done. With the new corporate heads (front office) and product managers (coaches) in place the next steps would be to build a new product (the players) as you see fit and establish a new culture. Once all of the physical pieces are in place they can start to work on the metaphysical process of selling the faces of the brand to the public. Which brings them to the means of accomplishment…

New coach Matt Rhule and his staff have to earn some respect from their players before they can tout the idea of having an attractive team culture, and they can do it with relative ease as long as a majority of the players are in their early twenties. With that in mind the goal might be to have most of their playmakers drafted within three or four years of each other. It lines up with their direction of finding the youngest players with the most upside and it also warrants the questionable decision of setting off the TNT to locate the bedrock of the team.

Related Story: Positives of the Matt Rhule Hire

If the team really does decide to hit rock bottom this season it will be the ultimate test to see which players continue to respect their coaches and buy into the culture so the front office can continue to get rid of players that don’t. Once a working process and new team culture is established the front office can comfortably purchase top-dollar free agents to put them through this process. If the goal is to replace a former first-overall quarterback with a similar type selection while setting the new guy up for success, the Panthers may be on target. Bringing us to the next point…

The Panthers current free agency situation is arguably the worst it’s been in the history of the team, but what can we expect with such limited resources that resulted from the follies of years past? Next offseason the team will have over triple the salary cap they had this year. They’ll have all of the resources needed to surround a rookie or second-year quarterback with the protection and production he needs to convince his new audience he’s the next face of the franchise and that Carolina hasn’t lost its way.

With a coaching staff that re-established the doctrine of “Keep Pounding”, a new first-overall quarterback, a starting core with an average age less than twenty-six years and over one hundred million dollars in cap space to sign the “big splash” free agents people want to see – the Panthers will have everything they need for a sustainable model of long-term success by the start of the 2021 season. Rhule will be able to validate his prerogative of being a program whisperer and David Tepper will be the owner of one of the most successful franchises for the next decade. It seems like Mr. Rajack (Director of Football Analytics) and Mr. Suleiman (Director of Player Negotiations and Salary Cap Manager) have been spending a lot of time together.

Here’s one last thought: Tepper thinks like an investor. He understands that buying into a low position with an indefinite upward trend up over a long period of time is worth selling a product that’s stuck at a plateau. He wants the Panthers to have a sustainable model for success while wining some Super Bowls. His next “rags to riches” story is taking place right now in Charlotte.

Next: Fans Should Embrace Teddy Bridgewater

To Cam Newton, Eric Reid, Luke Kuechly, Greg Olsen and every other victim of the rebuild….thank you for the memories. You will be missed!

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