Carolina Panthers: Rebuilding with a “now and later” mentality

(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) David Tepper and Marty Hurney
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) David Tepper and Marty Hurney /
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Carolina Panthers v Minnesota Vikings
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – NOVEMBER 30: Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings speaks with Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers after the game on November 30, 2014 at TCF Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Vikings defeated the Panthers 31-13. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /

One Year Plan

Quarterback and wide receiver were just two of the positions Carolina managed to fill during the first wave of free agency. They also went out and got themselves a safetydefensive endguarddefensive tackle, and linebacker.

What’s interesting are the contract lengths, nothing is promised beyond two years besides Bridgewater’s deal. The Panthers continue the trend of making people earn a big payday by proving they can consistently play well, similar to safety Tre Boston.

Then there are the eight draft picks. Since the Panthers practically filled all of their offensive needs acquiring free agents, they’ll be able to take full advantage of the defensive talent this draft has to offer (particularly defensive tackle, corner and linebacker). After this year’s draft Carolina will start to look whole again and they’ll have until the beginning of this next league year to extend or cut players currently on one-year deals.

During the next free agency period the Panthers will have enough cap space to offer long-term extensions to all the guys who’ve earned it and sign top-dollar free agents. Shortly thereafter they can potentially draft their next franchise quarterback and fill in roster gaps with the rest of the draft picks (which shouldn’t be too many).

One year from now Carolina should have a long-term answer at quarterback on offense. They’ll have a majority of their former playmakers familiar with the scheme and they’ll have a defense full of vengeful sophomores or people looking for contract extensions – all competing for playing time.