Are top 2021 free agents shunning the Carolina Panthers?

(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule
(Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports) Matt Rhule /

Are the top free agents who were available on the market this year shunning the Carolina Panthers during this particular stage of their rebuild?

It is worth remembering that the NFL’s free agency period is still in its infancy. Just two days have transpired since the legal tampering period began. But it already appears as if the top players on the market are giving the Carolina Panthers a wide berth.

General manager Scott Fitterer adopted to take a patient approach to recruitment, which is a bold strategy considering how busy other teams have been regarding immediate recruitment. This is also a far cry from the in on every deal mentality he declared during an introductory press conference that led many to believe it was going to be another busy offseason period for the franchise.

Fitterer has gone from one extreme to the other.

So, what’s changed?

It could be down to the financial aspect of any deals. The Panthers freed up some much-needed funds by letting some established veterans go ahead of time, with plenty of bargains set to be had when the dust settles and experienced players start getting a little twitchy in search of employment.

This is going to be a few weeks of the likes we’ve not seen before. The shrinking salary-cap has made things incredibly difficult across the league and this represents an opportunity for Carolina to acquire some established names on the cheap if they play their cards right.

However, it could also be down to the fact big names are giving Carolina a “thanks but no thanks” reply when the call came.

For the Panthers to reveal their first two signings as Pat Elflein and Cam Erving at a time when the prolific playmakers normally come off the market is a glaring indication as to how things might go. This will be more than a little frustrating for Carolina’s loyal fanbase who are growing tired of mediocrity and this has only heightened urgency to get almost every decision right before competitive action rolls around in 2021.

Carolina Panthers might be paying for their treatment of Cam Newton.

Everyone wants to see a big splash, which might still come from the Panthers.

But with the top players agreeing to deals elsewhere at a rapid rate, the pool is shrinking with every passing hour.

Whether the team’s handling of the Cam Newton release is impacting how incoming players approach discussions with Carolina is up for debate. It didn’t exactly paint the organization in a positive light and although there has been a change at the top with Fitterer over Marty Hurney, as the old saying goes – mud sticks.

There will be a lot of drama to come, of that there is little doubt. But there appears to be some apprehension about just how much of a complication attracting the right sort of quality is going to be.

Carolina gets the benefit of the doubt for now. There is still a long way to go, so Fitterer and Matt Rhule are sure to pull a couple of rabbits out of the hat.

It might not be the big names that fans are after. But that is just the current state of affairs with the franchise and unless they start producing winning football, things won’t change.