Good, bad and ugly from Scott Fitterer’s first season as Panthers GM

(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer /
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Carolina Panthers
(Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) Scott Fitterer /

Scott Fitterer’s mediocre free agency and CB trades

One of the Carolina Panthers’ most fatal flaws in 2020 was the patchwork offensive line they worked to assemble. On the first day of free agency, the team shocked many by signing Cam Erving and Pat Elflein with the intention of relying on both to start.

Elflein and Erving have both been major disappointments, and the Panthers’ protection is making a strong case for being the worst in the entire NFL. Some fans are also bitter that the team passed on Rashawn Slater with the eighth overall choice, who is currently looking like a future All-Pro on the Los Angeles Chargers.

While it’s easy to focus on how much of a disaster the additions to the offensive line have been, Scott Fitterer quietly made some solid additions in free agency as well. On the defensive front, DaQuan Jones, Morgan Fox, and Haason Reddick have all proven themselves to be reliable players.

Reddick especially has been a standout, as he’s currently ninth in the NFL with 11 sacks and could be one of the few Panthers selected for the Pro Bowl.

It’s also too soon to judge the outcome of some of Fitterer’s midseason trades, specifically the CJ Henderson acquisition. When the Panthers traded for the former first-round pick, it was a gamble on his upside and athletic profile. He had a rough showing against the Atlanta Falcons, but there are also some impressive glimpses on his tape.

There’s still a chance Henderson can develop into a reliable cornerback with proper coaching. As a second-year player, he’s still a better prospect than what you can realistically expect to get in the third round.

The Stephon Gilmore trade from the New England Patriots remains a steal.

Gilmore has clearly been one of Carolina’s best players since his arrival. The downside is that he is a free agent following this season, and it seems possible that he may want to spend the final years of his prime with a team built to win now.

Even if he leaves following the campaign, Carolina should be awarded a compensation pick that is more valuable than the sixth-round choice they originally gave up for him.