Panthers balance sheet: Offense in the black after major QB move

Dean Jones
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Sam Darnold and Matt Rhule /
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Carolina Panthers
(Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports) Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore /

The concerns

Although there are plenty of reasons to be encouraged from an offensive standpoint, it would be remiss if the potential concerns weren’t brought up.

The Carolina Panthers’ chances are primarily lying on the shoulders of Sam Darnold. If the player doesn’t meet specific targets and proves he simply isn’t good enough to be a starting-caliber NFL quarterback, then the organization can kiss their chances of a winning record goodbye.

Another big factor to consider is the health of Christian McCaffrey. The face of the franchise turned out just three times in 2020 and if the Panthers want to make the necessary strides in 2021, they’ll have to keep the All-Pro fresh and on the field for the duration of the campaign.

Having so many questions surrounding the offensive line doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. Carolina knows what it has in Taylor Moton – one of the best right tackles in the business – but every other position has concerns that need to be alleviated.

There is also the small matter of Curtis Samuel’s production and who replaces it. David Moore, Terrace Marshall Jr., and Shi Smith are candidates for targets, with undrafted free-agent Omar Bayless also coming with some upside providing he can win a place on the 53-man roster.

Perhaps less concerning – but something to keep an eye on – is the absence of Robby Anderson from voluntary OTAs with rumors circulating that the Panthers were shopping him during the 2021 NFL Draft.

Much work to be done, obviously. But the talent is there for all to see if everything clicks into place right away.